The Art of Interior Decoration
8 February 2016
I’ll be honest. If you asked me on most Sunday mornings, I never have a clue what I’m going to blog about that evening (well, in fact, it’s early Monday morning as I write). But it’s curious how something amazing always turns up.
This weekend was no exception. Charlie and I were staying with our friend Lulu Lyttle, and family, at Lulu’s parents’ beautiful Rectory in a ancient-feeling corner of Worcestershire – a corner of the country I have never been to. Lulu runs that fabulous shop Soane on Pimlico Road, and was, no less, responsible for giving the dinner party where Charlie and I met. Blog opportunities (or what I now call blogortunities) would have abounded…. except that for most of the weekend, rain and storms swept in. We could hardly get out of the house, let alone take a photo.
On Sunday morning, Lulu came into the kitchen asking me ‘Ben do have these amazing books?’ I had to confess that I’d never seen them. Lulu had been given them by Peter Twining, who runs the antiques department at Soane. Hachette’s The Art of Interior Decoration, in two volumes.
I love this opening sentence. It’s actually very true.
Following the introduction are a series of stunning images, combining old school grandeur with highly contemporary interiors.
Random chapters, such as ‘Variations on the Hexagonal Tile’ make you chuckle as you leaf through the pages.
The Chateau de Flecheres:The dairy at the Chateau de Rambouillet:
A random page concerned with flooring…
Carries this important memorandum:
Oh god, now I want to do a conversation pit.
But on the very next page, this beautiful reference guide to different carpeting types. I think I am no longer going to refer to coir carpet as coir, but rather as coco-nut matting.
The contrast of interiors and the richness of the interiors reminds me a little of the newest bible of the interior decoration world, Cabana magazine, to which I am sure every reader of this blog is already a subscriber.A section on Veneered panels:
A Manhattan apartment is followed immediately by an essay on historic door designs:
I’m in love with this Watered silk entrance hall, decorated by Robert Thibier (a name I only really recognise today from beautiful coffee tables for sale on 1st dibs). The library at Mellerstain:
A page of Passementerie
Includes a style guide to tassel ends, a level of historical understanding which I wasn’t really aware of until now:
The book contains an essay on ‘The Problem of Comfort’,
And descriptions of lighting, door furniture, and millions of other details:
The back cover of volume one.
Volume two looks at styles of decoration. It too is a blissful read.
The styles are rather more self-explanatory.
A very grand manner bed:
A beautiful bathroom by Madeleine Castaign:
A lovely room in Florida by the architect V. Lundy caught my eye. I’d never heard of Victor Lundy, but I was quite pleased, thanks to the internet, to make the acquaintance of this photograph of him during World War II:
There. That perked up your Monday morning. Moving back to the book…
Dream interior. I love this room: I’m rather intrigued by this room (location not listed) and how few sofas or upholstered armchairs it contains, just a beautiful collection of chairs that cross styles and periods:
The book ends with a cross-style analysis of which styles and pieces of furniture may successfully be combined. The coding system is a little too complex to explain on the blog, but it makes complete sense.
It was a brilliant way to lose myself for an hour on Sunday morning. Thank you, Lulu. I got back to London and immediately ordered my copies. Old school decorating, and just so bang on trend.