Edwardian Decorating


May 8, 2001
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Well, as much as I didn't want to admit that I need help, I do! I have pummeled the poor unsuspecting Randy Bigham to death. (But gracious thanks are certainly in order!) Thanks to his help I have the name for the flowery stuff I am attracted to... "CHINTZ!" I thought I was going mad! Now it has been confirmed!
Now that the house is starting to get repainted next task is decorating the walls, buying carpet, and finally, new furniture, so I want to learn and understand what is Edwardian, so my purchases coincide, especially in the sitting room, which is shaping up nicely. Unfortunately for the colorblind ME, when looking at black and white photos, I don't get a sense of what I am looking at, so I am unable to explain it to the poor clerk behind the counter.
Going to the decorator store is a complete frustration. If I get drug over to another heavy, tassled, red velvet, overstuffed chair, I sware I am going to pick it up and throw it!
Here are a few questions...
I am looking to buy a few paintings. I don't want nudes, and that is all I am getting as feedback from these "Professionals". 2nd to cottage scenes, and I am uncertain of their era and um(forgive me, I don't know the terminology) type. (aka chintz, floral, nudes) let alone what the frame should look like.
Flooring in Edwardian age.... Parquet? Tile, Lenolium colors, carpet style, & color?
Wood furniture. I don't see much in the way of Oak. Always the deep, rich, and very DARK colors. I am interested as to see WHAT was placed in each room, in case I NEED to buy something else....
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Any suggestions of books I could get at the library would be GREAT! also any favorite web sites would be most appreciated. I know I will have lots more questions, and thanks in advance!
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Colleen, why not take one of your Titanic books with photos of the passenger rooms and show the furniture salesclerks? Or would that be too obvious? (how do you make those faces?) And you could always look for paintings that are French Impressionist when in doubt. Cherubs were a trend also, if I'm not mistaken.

And when you're done, why not come and help me?

Kyrila
 

Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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Oh, my mother was cherub crazy when I was a kid and there were cherub-themed items all over the house when I was growing up.

I seem to remember her referring to a decorating style known as Florentine? I'm not sure if I'm remembering it properly or not
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Irresistible topic! The thing to remember in decorating Edwardian style is that Victorian style did not suddenly halt in 1901 and there was great overlapping in choices of interior decor. The trend by Titanic times was to get rid of those overstuffed and tufted horsehair filled and befringed sofas and ottomans, toss the acres of tasselled portieres and miles of draping and festooning for a more streamlined and naturalistic approach. This is also revealed in the fashion of dress. The machine made gingerbread and excessive ornamentation of the Victorian age was fast being replaced by the Arts and Craft movement which exalted good workmanship and quality materials, clean lines and good design. Nature themes were prevalent- check out William Morris, the Art Nouveau movement, and the glass of Comfort Tiffany Studios. Here are a couple of good links- http://www.fitzdecarts.com/english.htm
http://www.vics.com.au/heritage/qanne.htm Just show me three yards of fabric and I become delerious-take photos of your finished interiors!
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Forgot to mention the favored colors were in the earth tones: sienna, cream, bisque, russet, mossy green, claret, copper and florentine gold stencilling, umber, terracotta. Dover Press offers MANY books very cheaply on the subject of William Morris- including his wallpapers which were much celebrated and have recently enjoyed a revival. I am a member of The Arts and Crafts Associates, and our mission is to restore churches of the period, but still the color palette is the same as home decor. For Gothic Revival themes- there is only one man to consult- the work of Pugin- he was the Master. Type any of these names in your browser box and you will find dozens of hits! A trip to the local library and historical society will help produce tips on local buildings of the period still standing, and often photos of interiors of the time. Coming to Newport for the convention? You will get an eyeful of Gilded Age interiors!
 
May 8, 2001
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OOOWWW!!!!!That's it!! Good start! Thank you, Shelly. The two links were good ones, and a great place to begin. I noticed William Morris right away, some of his designs are eye catching, and stylish. One pattern I know I have seen in a home in Virginia City! Dejavu!
Out where I am, there was nothing really before WW1, and definetely nothing Edwardian.
Tracy. Thanks! Leads of just names of eras or styles are immensely helpful... (I like cherubs too.)
Kyrila. I have used my Illustrated History a thousand times for ideas, and colored pictures. It's trying to explain what you see to someone else that is hard. (By the way, I did paint my front bathroom in a pale gray with maroon accents!) ...The last thing I want is to have someone like Eric Sauder come to my house and have him say outloud, "This looks like a nightmare Ken Marschall once described to me!" hee hee.
Looks like I have my weekend planned!
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THANKS AGAIN! Any other sites you come upon, please pass them along. I have time before much of it will transform, but it is good to start watching NOW!
 
May 12, 2005
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All,

I will add that, thanks to tastemakers like Elsie de Wolfe and Edith Wharton, the influence of Louis XV and XVI styles was a major one at the turn of the 20th century. Light colors, soft fabrics, florals (the aforementioned chintz), stripes, effects like mirrors, treillage, trompe l'oeil, and black and white mixtures are among key touches to an authentic Edwardian assemblage. To add to Shelley's list of colors that were most sought-after in decor at the time, let me cite old rose, French blue, amber and olive. And may I reiterate the popularity of the pale grey-green which Shell has mentioned. That was a shade that was based on the faded woodwork of Marie- Antoinette's Petit Trianon before its restoration.

Definitely OUT of vogue by 1910 were heavy velvet hangings, overstuffed, ornate furniture and dark colors. Shell, dear sweet shameless Victorian devotee that she is, will hate me for saying it but I detest those heinous murky colors and stiff materials so beloved of the 19th century. I see velvet drapes and I want to puke!

Dear Colleen (Decorating diva in the making),

On the question of paintings. Let me suggest old prints, etchings, or engravings. Buy an old art book with those wonderful tipped-in plates which you can detach and frame. I have some antique prints of landscapes by Corot, my favorite painter, as well as some old Boucher and Fragonard pictures. I think these last you will not like but you'll adore Corot. Try and find his "Reflections of Mortefontaine" or one showing that heavenly lake at Ville d'Avray he immortalized. If you insist on a painting - go with a flowing still-life. You can't go wrong there. Again there are prints in this range that might suit you better - look for reproductions of works by de Fontenay, Louis XIV's court "flower painter." Exquisite.

Randy
 
May 8, 2001
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THANK YOU ALL AGAIN!! Randy...I am glad you mentioned the floral pattern and paintings. I spotted a painting.... (and wash basin) that called to me. This narrowed down version doesn't do it justice, but,there is a gold trimmed, cobalt "Spode" cup and saucer sitting to the side.
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:)
 
Apr 11, 2001
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This link will show a soft sage on the walls with a mossy green cabinet color with white enamel knobs- "old oak" and pine were favorites for the kitchen hutch or dresser as the Brits call it.
http://www.akbb.co.uk/kitchens/edwardian.html
The housemouse site offers great Edwardian kitchen gadgets, home products and inventions, and decorating tips. http://www.housemouse.net/hkitchen00.htm
Many of the Gilded Age kitchens in Newport are painted in cream, ochre, bisque or mushroom and feature dark cabinets and wrought iron pan racks full of copperware. http://www.edwardiankitchens.co.uk/
 
May 8, 2001
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OK. I purchased a color called "Dublin Light". Hard to explain the color, but between mushroom and moss I suppose. I am trying to keep the walls light. I got ahold of a color chart of Classic colors and almost fainted. SO DARK! Russets, and reds. (I know, I was pre-warned!)
Thanks for the assistance again! I'm anxious to see the outcome.
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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Colleen~

If you don't mind some extra gimp on this subject, I would like to give a few tacks here!

From everything I have heard and seen from a variety of sources, I discovered just that: "variety", is best in describing 1910's decor. A cottage feel? An aristocratic bent? Maybe a townhouse! Influences seem to be multifold: "period" furnishings were gaining popularity then, as ever-after, in creating an established look- like it was in the family forever. This was probably a result of the "new-money" folks who desired a more settled comfort, as opposed to Everything brand-spankin' new. Which personally I find perfect: allow the room to develop...like a garden...don't rush a good thing.

Colors? I take cue from color descriptions in period catalogues, but Shelley and Randy have already given far better clues on that. Also, look at interior paintings of say, Seargent et al, and you'll get the, forgive me, nuances of color and texture in rooms (highly polished woods, any type, glossy painted surfaces mixed with subtle, matte finished fabrics seem to be typical). Lighting, of course, is minimal, although I don't recommend dispensing with electricity and utilizing gas and kerosene!

Artwork: THE most personal of taste. Always has been. This was a time of so many art movements; from neo-classical, Art Nouveau (a French thing, but influenced by Chinese art), Beaux Arts (seems very 18th cen. to me) Arts & Crafts (in the U.S. commonly known as Mission, both a Pre-Raphaelite manifestation reflecting taste of a pre-industrial revolution). Of course the beloved Impressionists; and some of the very modern stuff of the German and Austrian schools (think Klimpt).Hmmm...with all that, a simple Colonial linen sampler sounds charming! As I'm sure many folks back then did also.

One thing I notice, also a tradition in my own family: the dining room has historicaly been the most formal room in the house, and bedrooms the most sparse. The front room, or parlor, (living room today...that "great-room" thing I have not graduated to yet!) seems to be a combination of the old drawing/reception/conservatory rooms- basically a place where people (most importantly guests) gather. Coffee tables were a 1920's fashion; tea or parlor tables were the norm previous. The typical sofa of today would have been thought of as "Turkish", all over-stuffed to the floor: a more masculine, smoke-room look. Most furniture had legs...I heard that it was considered most sanitary at least 7 inches above the floor (one could sweep under it).

Now for the kitchen...gut it, and do you have an ice truck in your neighborhood? HaHa! I'm kidding- time to go!

I hope that just a small bit here helped you out, forgive me if I babbled: the curved needle is done!

Take care~
Kris
 
May 8, 2001
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Hey Thanks, Kris! Every little bit helps!
Identification is always the first step, and this subject has really opened my eyes.
Come back and (how did you put it...)babble, any time you'd like!
Sincerely,
 
May 12, 2005
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Hi, Kris,

Long time, no speak!

As usual, you have added needed clarification and fresh info. (I had forgotten about the coffee-table being a 1920s innovation!)

I love your suggestion to "allow the room to develop...like a garden...don't rush a good thing." Ok, when does your TV show to rival Martha Stewart air? I WILL be tuning in!

And you hardly need an invitation to share your insight here or on any subject.

Randy
 
May 8, 2001
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PS. Kris. You pointed out something that became an important find for me, and I wanted to acknowledge you again.
I just read that the Edwardian era was all about clean and uncluttered, hence, among other things, they would have not had wall to wall carpets, as throw rugs could have been taken outside and shaken free of dust, which brings about the height of the couches you mentioned. (Disecting some of the components of the era to understand what they "were about" has been a real hang up for me.)

>>>allow the room to develop...like a garden...don't rush a good thing<<< Spoken like a professional! Besides, learning, planning and thinking about it, is half the fun!
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Kris! K-Mart is in need of a new Design Diva! Martha Stewart has single-handedly driven them into bankruptcy because nobody is buying that cra---stuff. You could start a whole new return to Edwardian style! Hey! Retro is IN!!!

Kyrila
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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Hello all those of gracious living!

Randy- rival Martha Stewart? Well, that shouldn't be difficult nowadays...although to be honest, it would seem I'm going for that "Warsaw 1945" look- so chic! Shabby taken to the extreme!

Colleen- I am glad I've given you some bits; here's some more! Wallpaper: period photographs seem to indicate that if there was a wall, closet, or ceiling it Must be papered! But I believe this to be Victorian residue; for equal amounts of plain painted walls are seen- even in rented places or boarding houses.
Whicker seems to have been quite popular, giving the weekend summer place feel, even in cities. Bookcases and desks were as typical then as a tv is today...even in the slums one had at least a shelf of a few beat-up volumes of something. My immigrant Great-Grandparents would keep a stash of neatly folded newspapers and cast-off magazines, not because they were packrats; they would use the text to teach themselves English! The parlor was usually set up in a grouping of sofa/setee, one or two chairs with a table close by. It was an effort to create conversational ease, pouring tea, etc., as opposed to furniture spread out against walls rendering interaction almost impossible.
Oh! You mentioned chitz...slipcovers were used; but more for the practical reason of hiding worn, out of date upolstry, not because it was "in". Old money kept their money because of such thrift! When "tea-staining" became popular- I don't know.
Well, one last babble: Stain. Dark stain on wood (even naturally darker wood) I think came from the Neo-Gothic movement in the 1840's, when the fashion was to have a home like a Medieval cathedral! I'm not sure if this concept ever went away: we still think of mahogany a dark brownish with a hint of deep red. In fact, mahogany is really lightish- almost like a cherry. But the fashion must have stuck, and that is what people have grown to expect as the "true" color. So manufacturers give 'em what they want! Now, wood naturally darkens with age, but to accelerate the process artisans would throw ink into the stain (hence the term "ink-stained"). And varnish...in the days of linseed oil and who knows what else, that darkens up the wood also. And re-varnishing was a common "spring-cleaning" task...one sees the "crocodile" effect of that in antiques today.

Sorry! Great-grandpa was a cabinetmaker by trade: sawdust is in my blood!

Take care!
Kris

P.S.: Wax build-up? Marketing scheme- wood NEEDS protection; it wears off anyway. Wash grime off with good 'ole Murphy's, dry with clean cloth and use polish. In dry climates, do more often...especially the antiques!;)K.
 

Kris Muhvic

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Kyrila-

Hmmm....maybe I should quit my job and give Martha a run for her money, eh? Thank you for thinking I give a little something to the topic; I was tapping away when you posted...now if I could only enhance my typing skills....

Yours-
Kris
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Actually, Kris, I am quite fascinated by your posts on this topic, especially the way you slip in tidbits as to why people did what they did (i.e. the slipcovers and folded newspapers). Another reason slipcovers were used (at least in my experience around Edwardians) was to keep new furniture protected. My grandmother never allowed anyone to remove the slipcovers. When the plastic ones came out, she put those on underneath. As a result, when she passed on, the furniture still looked as new as the day she bought it. The cushions were a little out of shape but the fabric was in perfect condition.

Kyrila
 

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