Edwardian Decorating

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I love the reflection of the other corner of the room in the mirror. You can see the white bas relief in the panels of the wall. I've always liked the Wedgewood look myself. So these rooms will be on the tour in April?

Kyrila
 
We will see the entire Astor mansion in April, including the servants quarters. By Newport standards, Beechwood is a modest "cottage", the ballroom being the most ornate and impressive part of the house. The Breakers, which we will be touring the same day is at the other end of the spectrum- unbelievably opulent. The photos are Beechwood ballroom- done in an ocean motif right down to kelp wall sconces and wave-cut mirror glass.
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I have been paying special attention lately to the color schemes used during this era. To be honest with you, I am sort of surprised. I don't know if there is a general answer to my question, but what made those particular colors (greens for example)Moss, kelp, olive, sage, etc. "The rage"? Was it due to the era before being so dark in colors, that this was a refreshing change, or some other reason that prompted the popularity for "muddy" and "brownish" tones?
Plugging right along! :)
 
The early twentieth century saw a revival in all things 18th century, when softer colors were in vogue. That was the inspiration - the neoclassical revival in decor, art, and fashion. There were other periods being "done" in the early 1900s but the style of the "Three Louis" (Louis XIV, XV, XVI) was most chic, thanks to taste-makers like interior designer Elsie de Wolfe. The slightly faded tones that were so popular, particularly the greens, were many of them based on shades that were discovered in original upholstery, wall hangings, and paint during the restoration of Petit Trianon under the supervision of Pierre de Nolhac, curator of Versailles. (see his book "Versailles and the Trianons," 1906)

Old rose, Wedgwood blue, vert di gris and amber were shades that were really fashionable. Florals mixed with stripes -- emulating the effect of lattice -- were also big.
 
There's a film with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant where they own a large castle that they open to tourists in order to stay afloat. Robert Mitchum pursues Lady Rhyall (Kerr) and what a quandary! I mean, Robert Mitchum and Cary Grant - how could you choose! But you know what I remember about the film? Those Wedgwood blue walls with the white wainscotting! I fell in love with it and hope one day that I can do my living room in that fashion!

Kyrila
 
PERFECT, Randy! "A revival". Exactly what I was searching for an answer to. Thank you! I kept bumping into this era, and wasn't able to figure out the connection.
Kyrila. What is the name of the movie? It would be fun to watch it, just for the decorating ideas!
 
It's called "The Grass is Greener." Every now and then they show it on AMC, but it's also available on video. Not a blockbuster, but still fun, and especially yummy with those two fine male costars - makes you wish you were Deborah Kerr! But the castle! Oh! Very opulent and yet homey in the family rooms that weren't open to the public. Yes, my dear, you will enjoy this little romp of a film.

Kyrila
 
In enjoying the beautiful outdoors, and planting rose bushes I seem to keep finding on my front porch, I started to wonder. What were the flowers of the Edwardian era that were popular? Are they different from today's tastes?
I.M.O. I don't think you can go wrong with roses, but the next time I am loading up my cart, would like to stop and smell the ....."Edwardian era flowers"...
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Those Edwardians were mad gardeners! Grab any book from the library about Gertrude Jekyll or Francis Inigo Thomas- perhaps the two most famous Edwardian gardeners. The Victorians happily admitted to making their gardens "contrived" and artificial -looking. As Empire expanded, many exotic plants were brought into the country and conservatories featured many strange specimen plants. I have seen lovely Vicotrian books of pressed wildflowers and ferns- they were wild for Nature- even copying flowers in paper and wax to pop under heavy glass domes in the parlor. Beatrix Potter was first off, a naturalist who painted exquisite flora and fauna BEFORE Peter Rabbit. Of course you are familiar with the Language of Flowers. The Edwardians also had structure to their gardens- I highly recommend Edith Holden's An Edwardian Lady's Diary"- very easy to find used- which is full of watercolors of her garden flowers. There were croquet lawns, watercourses. nutteries, wild flower lawns- thyme lawns, herb clocks of feverfew, wormwood, hyssop, Iris and rosa gallica and alba, camomile and other herbs we know well. There were rose gardens (old fragrant species), aster and hosta gardens (for shade) and foliage gardens with textured and colorful leaves (A favorite of Gertrude Jekyll), brick paths, pergolas. arbors and trellises,sundials and birdbaths, greenhouses, fruit orchards, and inside- all manner of potted fern and aspidistra, No Boston Back Bay mansion was complete without a Boston fern in a brass compote. As to roses- well...I would need more space! Go for the old tried and true variety- a hot rose of the period was the WHITE American Beauty. There are many old rose varieties still on the market- especially the floribundas and climbers. With snow on the ground here- summer flowers sound pretty good to me.
 
Just looking through the Edith Holden book- which is "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" I see snowdrop bulbs (bloom in early March), English daisies,(Bellis perennis) primroses, pussywillows, (called catkins then)daffodils and periwinkles, violets, wood anemone, cowslips, ladyslipper, crabapple,Spurge (Euphorbia) wood hyacinths, broom, holly, ranuculus (common buttercups) pansies, heartsease, violas, dog rose- (Betty Prior is a good choice-pink) foxglove, hollyhock, yellow Iris, beebalm, Canterbury bells or any campanula type, loosestrife (purple, grows wild along the road), butterfly weed (asclepias, orange), red poppies, harebells, heathers, thistles and cow parsnip (looks like Queen Anne's lace but wild)- had enough !? I have all of these in my gardens so all are available. Am now itching to get my fingers in some soil.
 
Shelley- Do yourself a favor. Avoid the Loosestrife. Too much water in the soil and it turns extremely invasive. I believe it is now illegal for nurseries to carry it in Connecticut- here in NY it has decimated our cat-tail population, and is making progress in wiping out many of the other attractive wetlands plants. At my job we have this beautiful 1909 volume called "The Formal Garden" with bound in photos taken at several dozen Northeastern estates-none identified- which would seem to be a must-reaq for the serious Edwardian Gardener. The best piece of advice in it is that 5000 Narcissus bulbs cost less than 25 good cigars and give you more return on the investment. Still true today. I would recommend the Carpet Rose, which is a new cultivar which LOOKS very old fashioned, and the "Rosie O'Donnell" which is a truly beautiful grandiflora saddled with an awful name which will date it in about....well...ten minutes. There is also the "Barbara Streisand" which some say looks "old fashioned" and which others (me for instance) find to resemble regurgitated Pepto-bismol in color as it is an odd pinkish lavender shade. The Carpet is the best choice, and is still patented which means you'll have to track down a nursery which stocks them and they are not inexpensive- but the result after three growing seasons is breathtaking, and after having spent the better part of 6 years working in other peoples Rose Gardens it takes a lot to get me to say that.
 
I agree on all counts Jim- the wild loosestrife has taken over the ditches of RT 95. Give me grandifloras anyday- the tea roses are too much work for too few flowers. Colleen- find out your zone first- then check for what is hardy there. My Victorian Granny had a pale pink climber called Pink Fairy- bitty clusters of roses- which was divine on a trellis or rock wall. The English David Austins are pricey but glorious-and really fragrant-unlike some of the hybrids bred for shape and color but little "nose". You can't beat the simple old-fashioned cornflower (bachelor button) and pinks (dianthus)-especially the deep pink, clove-scented ones and one of my old-fashioned favorites, hollyhocks. Plenty of Edwardian poetry abounds about gardens and flowers. My favorite garden book is Celia Thaxter's, An Island Garden- Celia belongs under our thread- Those Magnificent Ladies! Anybody who can grow poppies on a salt-infested sandtrap of an island lighthouse garden in the middle of the Isle of Shoals off New Hampshire gets my respect!
 
Yes, the Fairy Rose is still popular, as is the Blanket Rose. Of the new cultivars- the Liz Taylor has a fair amount of nose appeal. There is a whole line of celebrity-named cultivars-Paul McCartney; Liza Minnelli(WHY?); Lynn "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden" Anderson; Rosie O'Donnell; John F. Kennedy; Barbra Streisand- but the Rosie O'Donnell is the only visually interesting one amongst the lot as it is "red on the outside white on the inside" with a typical grandiflora blossom.
 
Wow! Well.... I recognize roses and violets!
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My favorite roses, so far, is the Europena. Last Christmas, I had 50+ blooms on the bush. It just kept on blooming! Since you are speaking to a person who succeeded in killing a Bougainvillea plant, and a cactus, the rose bush is a great accomplishment!
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This is a beautiful season for the desert. For the first time in 4-5 years, the wild flowers have bloomed, and the whole countryside is yellow, orange, and purple.
Thanks for all the information. Sounds like I have some homework to do.
 
While I was in the gift shop at the Flagler Museum (Whitehall), I came across two books that may be of interest: "Victorian and Edwardian Decor - From Gothic Revival to Art Nouveau" by Jeremy Cooper, and "Principles of Home Decoration" a classic from 1903 by Candace Wheeler. The first book was coffee table size ($40), while the second book ($15) was the same size as those "Don't Sweat" books. Interestingly, they also carried a few different books and videos about Titanic.

Kyrila
 
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