Edwardian Decorating

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Victoria magazine has been around for about 14 years and I must have every issue-it is a fabulous resource and very modestly priced-check it out!
Hey Colleen,

Shell's right. You'll love Victoria magazine. My mother is a subscriber so I get all the back issues free! From time to time some of our "magnificent ladies" are even profiled. A fashion sketch of Lucile's was featured in an issue not long ago and there was once a story on Lusitania's Theodate Pope Riddle, America's first woman architect.

As to tea, Colleen, I'll be just plain tickled to come. I have some extra antique English tea towels I can give you (but they aren't monogrammed Shelley, sorry!)


Bob Cruise

Former Member
But Shelley - you fail to mention decor which distinguishes the bathrooms of the Breakers:

4 bathtub faucets (2 for hot- & cold-running tap/cistern water; 2 for hot- & cold-running sea-water)

Commodes sporting "seats" of laquered wood with caned backrests (now that's class!)

Bob Cruise

Former Member
"Kitchen Kitsch"

Also, Colleen, Shelley describes the kitchens in Newport with great accuracy as far as color scheme.

Fact is, however, kitchens weren't meant to be seen by guests. In Newport, most kitchens are in the basement.

Thus, the term "kitchen decor" is somewhat of an oxymoron (as far as Gilded Age houses are concerned).


What has always struck me about the Gilded Age kitchens which are on display:

The numerous turn-of-the-century devices which were the daily tools of the kitchen servants: various time/timing devices, scales and (especially) ornate brass jello molds (recently read a piece which explained how the company marketing "JELLO" thought up all kinds of dinner-party dishes which, due to the fact that these recipes required refrigeration, relegated the end-product to the tables at dinner parties of the rich - a prime example being the curious gastronomic antiquity known as "lobster aspic").

If you can afford a live cook and scullery maid (in period dress, of course), I'd say your look was pretty authentic.

Otherwise, go with Shelley's advice (and my suggestions?) and you'll be fine. Mrs. Astor may turn her nose up at your endeavors, but Martha Stewart won't (as long as you don't put iron bars on the windows).
Bob- yes I got such a kick out of those salt water taps! On another thread we went wild dicussing plumbing and toilets so I restrained myself from waxing lyrical here! The sitz baths at the Breakers are a hoot too- they are little tubs off in a corner just big enough to SIT sideways in with feet dangling over- very bizarre. The bathtubs are enormous in the mansions- and look like great Egyptian sarcophagi. I found the stark white marble and tile of all the mansion bathrooms very bleak- almost like hospital operating rooms and should hate to stretch out in one of those marble tubs even IF I had a French maid to scrub my back! The Vanderbilt Breakers has a charming two-storey china and kitchen supplies room, with a dumb waiter running up and down the levels and fabulous glass -front cupboards where the family china patterns can be seen monogrammed with the "V" , gold on cobalt- and looking much like a Titanic First Class pattern. Imagine cabinets full of Sevres and Spode! I could live in that kitchen- and the clever chain and gear rotisserie for roasts! The enormous wrought iron pan rack over the zinc-topped tables is full of solid copper pans. I hear they are not the original pans as those were donated to the war effort by the late Countess-but neighbors all donated spare pans and pots when the Preservation Society took over the property. Also amusing is the large light-up board in the kitchen, an "annunciator" I think it is called- for summoning the servants to each room, Now that's something I could use! I bet old Martha Stewart has one of these.
Colleen, I just got my new Midnight Velvet catalog and there were many Victorian and Edwardian period decor offerings. I thought you might particularly be interested in the framed tapestries. You can view it on page three of their Decorating Accessories/Wall Hangings thread. Simply midnightvelvet.com. They also had some fabulous furniture, lamps, bedding and matching curtains, vases, knick-knacks, etc.

Well, 4 hours of repeating "It is June 27, 1912. You are lying on your bed in The Grand hotel. It is 6Pm on June 27, 1912", didn't work, so I am back to doing this the hard way!
But, did you see the wallpaper in the house of Elise? I should just move there instead!
Had to laugh. The suggestion has been made several times of the fashion of wicker in the house. After reviewing the movie again, and seeing how terribly Richard Collier slept on the couch, Robert balked at the idea!
Thanks Kyrila. I hadn't even considered there would be magazines available to view! I checked Victoria magazine on line, and it has some interesting items they used back then.
Allot to the culture of the era, huh!?
Colleen- I am glad to tell you that wallpaper is available by Schumacher. In fact I once had the foyer paper in my front parlor. The house where Elise lives is actually a Victorian, as are many of the houses on this charming Mackinac Island where cars are not allowed. On the day of filming, when Chris Reeve knocks on the door of this house, it is supposed to be raining. If you check the frames carefully, you will see the sun shining over Chris' shoulder- they had to use water cannons to simulate the rain! Teresa Wright was great in the part as Elise's companion and biographer. Here is the house-I was thrilled to be mooning around in front of it on a Somewhere in Time Weekend which is held the last weekend in October at the Grand. The streets smell of fudge and lilacs in May, and you can almost believe it IS June 27, 1912.
Here are some photos of the costume contest- I was in heaven to be a judge this year and the first photo was my winner for best 1912 effort.
The Grand Hotel porch has been featured in Ripley's as the longest in the world -and yes, the wicker settee is not comfy but the rocking chairs are and what a view over Lake Michigan. The hotel is late Victorian. I spent hours waiting for Richard!
The grand foyer was used when Collier checks in the hotel in 1912 but Carlton Varney's bright geranium carpet was covered with orientals and Aubussons- another Edwardian decorating standby. Look closely in the scenes and you will see the geranium carpet underneath!
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