The Art of Interior Decoration

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.P1070376

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.P1070377 P1070378

I love this opening sentence. It’s actually very true.P1070379

Following the introduction are a series of stunning images, combining old school grandeur with highly contemporary interiors.P1070382 P1070383 P1070384 P1070385 P1070386

Random chapters, such as ‘Variations on the Hexagonal Tile’ make you chuckle as you leaf through the pages. P1070387

The Chateau de Flecheres:P1070388The dairy at the Chateau de Rambouillet:
P1070390 A random page concerned with flooring…

Carries this important memorandum:P1070393 P1070394

Oh god, now I want to do a conversation pit.P1070395

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.P1070396 P1070397

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.P1070398A section on Veneered panels:
P1070399 P1070400 P1070401 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).P1070404 The library at Mellerstain:

A page of PassementerieP1070407

Includes a style guide to tassel ends, a level of historical understanding which I wasn’t really aware of until now:P1070408 P1070409 P1070410

The book contains an essay on ‘The Problem of Comfort’,P1070411 P1070412

And descriptions of lighting, door furniture, and millions of other details:P1070413

The back cover of volume one.P1070414

Volume two looks at styles of decoration. It too is a blissful read.

The styles are rather more self-explanatory.P1070416 P1070417

A very grand manner bed:P1070418 P1070419 P1070420 P1070421 P1070422

A beautiful bathroom by Madeleine Castaign:P1070423 P1070424 P1070425

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:

25373rThere. That perked up your Monday morning. Moving back to the book…
P1070427 P1070428

Dream interior. I love this room:P1070429 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.P1070437

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.

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