Last week we picked up our latest edition to our Ercol family…a gorgoeus 1960’s elm framed day bed with it’s original cushions. It is simply beautiful with it’s elegant bentwood curved arms and it’s practical design. The back is a piece of solid elm with stunning grain to the wood. The cushions are a deep green colour with gold metal zippers. The base cushion is 1 piece with 3 smaller one at the back. It sits on 4 short stick legs that splay out an angle.

It is a 3 seater…perfect for unplanned (tall) visitors to crash out!

I love this furniture…it is lighter than our G plan teak we have in other rooms, both in colour and feel. I love the way it is based on classic 18th century designs but given a contempary twist with a 1950s styling.

The Ercol brand was established in 1920 by Lucian Ercolani. He was Italian whose family arrived in England in the late 1890s. The company was based in High Wycombe where interestingly, other 20th century furniture greats such as G plan also came from.

In 1944, Ercol were asked to make a huge commission: 100,000 low cost chairs of any design. Lucian had always loved the Windsor chair; admiring it’s simplicity and interestingly had also derived from High Wycombe centuries before. He was concerned about the size of the order for chairs with a bentwood frame so worked hard to master the craft of steam bending. He selected the unusual choice of English elm which wasn’t popular due to it’s problems when it was bent…usually warping under the heat.

The end result was shown at the 1946 “Britain Can Make It” exhibition at the V&A. This was an event to showcase the best of industrial and furniture design, set up by the Design Council.

After the war, they wanted to show the world that industry was important, that England was a design force to be reckoned with and Lucian couldn’t wait to show off his modern Windsor elm chair.

This was a success with the chair and other pieces going on sale the following year. Really, this was the first mass produced furniture….it’s clean lines were modern, the elm was light yet practical especially compared with the pre war clunky shapes and colours.

In 1951, they showcased new designs at the Festival of Britain. Further iconic pieces of furniture were introduced throughout the 1950s and 1960s such as the nest of pebble tables (1956), the butterfly chair (1958) and my lovely day bed!!

Ercol is still going strong today, run by Lucian’s grandson. Earlier this year they re-issued their signature pieces which were bought up in record time.

So, back to our day bed…it will fit perfectly in our new home alongside our dining table, 4 Quaker chairs and sideboard.

The sideboard has gorgoeus oval handles that sit within an oval hole. The drawers pull out to reveal a cutlery drawer..this is definately not flat pack!

The quality is amazing…the chairs are stamped 1960 on the base…they are 50 years old and still going strong with their original seat pads.

The table is a later model..chosen as it extends so much. It has 3 concealed leaves making the table when fully extended an amazing 3.5 metres. The grain in the wood is stunning…and I love and appreciate the fact that it is an original which clearly has influenced furniture today.

We are on the look out for the pebble tables and 2 Quaker carvers to sit at the end of the table to add to our Ercol-lection!!!

 If you love the Ercol why not join the “Friends of Ercol” Facebook page at!/group.php?gid=66216888318


Have yourself a Merry Vintage Christmas!

We know, we know.. it’s still November but here at Your Vintage Life we can’t wait ’till Christmas. We wanted to share our latest article for Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine to start to get you in the festive spirit….(and remember we have great pressies available on the site!)

Have yourself a Merry Vintage Christmas…

…by adorning your home with 1950s decorations, throwing a vintage Christmas Eve party and creating a traditional Christmas Day!

Christmas in years gone by, was more about family than today’s commercialism. Mother saved all year in saving schemes to ensure everyone could come together with peace and happiness. And every year was the same.

The dusty box of decorations came out of the loft to reveal a blast of colour, with glass baubles and strings of garlands. The tree was covered in balls and icicles reminiscent of the atomic shapes that were appearing on fabrics. The balls had indentations with crushed insides, stripes like the rings of Saturn and cigar shaped icicles which brought a modern feel. The tree was real, as artificial tinsel trees were not the fashion until the 1960s. Cards, candles, wired tinsel and coloured lights were thrown on top creating a haphazard, joyful vision. Under the tree amongst the presents, was a pile of pine needles mixed with broken glass; bauble casualties occurred on a daily basis! It wasn’t until the 1970s that plastic, durable baubles became the norm. A Barbie influenced fairy sat on the top with canary yellow hair and an organza skirt.

Multi coloured paper garlands zigzagged across ceilings with folded out paper bells hanging from the centre. Making paper chains was a family event with everyone participating. Strips of coloured crepe paper were stuck together with a running stitch sewn down the middle to create a twisted rainbow effect. There was one rule: the more the better!

The house was decorated often as late as Christmas Eve. Due to lack of transport, families spent the evening walking from house to house delivering cards and presents. This was party time when parents had a festive drink and children stayed up late, drinking lemonade. The drinks cabinet was stocked up and party snacks were laid out: men drank sherry, ladies drank Gin, Cherry Brandy or cocktails with a glace cherry on top. These were always served in the best glasses: frosted shot glasses for sherry (the schooner didn’t really take off until the 1960s) and branded champagne flutes for your Cherry B, Snowball or Babycham. Bar accessories were on display with fruit ice buckets, soda syphons and glass cocktail shakers.

Candy coloured “Little Forks” were used for nibbles. Meat was the main party food: cocktail sausages, tinned ham and scotch eggs were the favourites. The centre piece on the table was a hedgehog; a potato wrapped in foil with cheese and pineapple chunks on cocktail sticks sticking out. Entertainment came in the form of a sing-a-long and flicking through last year’s Christmas card scrapbook. Everyone enjoyed themselves but was always home before midnight….before Santa arrived!

Christmas morning, children woke up to a pillow case full of toys. A must was the year’s annual laid on top, perfect for excited eyes to read while waiting for parents to wake after the festivities of the night before.

As it is today, the dinner was the main event. The table was set, using only the best china which hadn’t been used since Easter. Candles were lit in the traditional central Christmas log. This was homemade; father would find a log, drill a hole in the middle and place candles in it.

He would stand at the head of the table carving the turkey on a huge ceramic platter. Seasonal vegetables were served in matching tureens. Mother added Bicarbonate of Soda to the sprouts to keep them green…everything had to be just so. Homemade crackers were pulled. Beer was drunk as wine didn’t become popular until the 1970s. Everyone dressed up in their best clothes. The meal ended with a Christmas pudding which had been made in November. All the family stirred the mixture in large mixing bowls, made a wish and hoped they would get the lucky sixpence.

After dinner, the family gathered around the wireless to listen to the Queen’s speech. Instead of flaking out on the sofa, everyone played board games. Pin the tail on the donkey, Lotto and the Christmas jigsaw were favourites. Cards were also played, using buttons for money when bets were placed.

Eventually, after turkey salad, cake and a glass of port at the table, the day drew to a close.

All this can be created today. Learn from the ghost of Christmas past and create a simpler festivity, holding family values high and celebrating a fun, bright look. Keep your eyes peeled all year for vintage decorations and pile them high on the tree. Dress your 1950s cocktail bar, make some old fashioned cocktails and invite people over on Christmas Eve. Wear your favourite vintage clothes. And turn off the television, play games and have a sing-a-long with the people you love!

Merry Christmas!

Patterns in Vogue

We recently bought an amazing pattern book which was produced by Vogue. You do see vintage patterns for sale quite a lot…..but this one is from October-November 1937. The magazine is full of beautiful pictures of stylish ladies to inspire you  to also look the same. You then went to a stockist and bought the relivent paper pattern, took it home, made your own dress and hey presto….you are now also a stylish lady!

The stockists also would provide you with a free fashion folder for you to store your precious patterns in.

The book opens with this season’s “Vital Statistics”, introducing you to the key looks for the winter ahead. This is really no different from a fashion mag today! It starts with the words:

“Talk swirls about the Paris Collections, and one is caught in an eddy of furs and sequins and lame and a return of the opulence and elegance of the pre war period. But through the sound and smoke some things rise above others to appear as the practical, applicable and vital statistics of the 1937-38 fashion story.  Let your head stay in the clouds with the fabulous charm of the story-these few fundamentals will help keep your feet very much on the ground”

It lists the following as the style to have:

  • Sleeves are “different, smoother, softer. Your shoulders are, for the most part, very much your own”.


  • Silhouettes are slender and elegant, thinning down the figure in 4 different ways
  • The waist “assumes great importance. You definatately have one, and it’s very small”!
  • Hemlines on a day dress are quite short…”13 or 14″ from the floor”! An afternoon dress is 12″ from the floor. Evening dresses are still ankle length.

So in summary: tiny waists, long skirts, soft shoulders…very sophisticated and feminine.

The first feature is called “Your coat” which according to Vogue is winter’s “major clothes problem”!

We are shown stunning shapes with fur collars, belted waists and checks….worn with gloves and matching clutch bag. This reminds me of this winter’s ladylike look:  sophisticated and demure.

Next are “Autumn Indispensables”, including a casual and afternoon ensemble as well as a 3 piece for all day. “Daytime frocks borrow Autumn Landscape colours”….greens and rusty reds in tailored shapes. I love the fitted skinny belts, pill box hats, light pleats and I am so going to rock the the double skinny belt look.

There are 7 pages on Vogue Couturiers: evening looks also in autumnal colours.

Floor length gowns, diamand rouching between the bust and wide sash belts are the key looks.

I love these gowns, we so dont wear floor length dresses anymore..they need a comeback!

There are 2 pages for the “not so slender” with 3/4 length sleeves, collarless necklines, shirts with soft tie sides that rouch over the tummy.

 Also pages called “Make the most of an imperfect figure”….how to add curves for the slim (“vertical lines directly above and below the midriff and a wide draped girdle to introduce curves”), how to slim your shoulders (wear pointed top raglan sleeves to minimise them), how to slim down a “plethora of a bosom”!!! (“a  smooth line of surplice front offers the cure”). The best line has to be: “Do you need bosom emphasis and nice coverage of a bony chest?” (a deep, narrrow neckline and bodice shirring will do it”)

I love the 2 pages full of “classics for girls and for little girls”. 

Having my own little girl and loving vintage fashion these are the pages for me! Princess frocks, girls with hoops, bloomers included, frilled necks in pastel colours are worn by innocent, pretty little girls.

In 1937, money (or lack of it) was important, just as it is today. “But I cant spend too much” is 2 pages of ideas to cut back. Wear an odd jacket with another skirt (ie. mix and match), a blouse that can be worn in the day through to the evening….remember these ladies wore 3 outfits a day!!

I love the “problem page” idea of patterns that will solve your problems. “I want a maternity dress that is smart as well as practical”,

“I want a business dress that hasnt the occupational look” and the best “My neck is frankly quite long, my figure minus curves”.

This has given us hours of pleasure and we hope you now have some ideas for what to wear this autumn/winter (especially if you have a bony chest, long neck or a plethora of a bosom!)

Berry nice!

Here at Your Vintage Life we do love a cake! Not just eating them off beautiful cake stands…we also like to bake them in our vintage kitchen!

Today we made berry muffins with our little boy, Herbie. They were a great success so I’ll take you through the recipe (and share some of our vintage kitchen treasures).

First job was to get our vintage pinnies on! This is mummy’s pinny but Herbie wanted to wear it. We, of course, washed our hands!!

Then we went down the garden to pick some juicy autumn raspberries from our fruit bed.

Next, we stopped off at the “ladies”; our 6 chickens to see if they had laid  any eggs today. Thankfully they had and we carefully brought them back to the house and into the china chicken.

We checked we had all the rest of the ingredients:

  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil


So, lets start mixing.

We use a 1950s Tala measuring cone and a Green’s grip stand mixing bowl.

The cone measures everything out in cup sizes…how it used to be done before grammes and kilos! This is so much easier….except when the recipe asks for grammes and I get a little stuck. So…I revert back to the retro 70s Salter orange scales that hang on the wall.

Little hands did the pouring and the mixing. He spent most of the time eating the raw ingredients: “I love flour mummy!”

I then remembered some blackberries left over from foraging that were in the freezer. I picked these in a park at the back of the village hall having visited an antiques fair there!

Bicarbonate of soda was added using our 1960s measuring spoons! The dry mixture was given a good stir and then we moved onto the wet ingredients. Mix in the eggs, the oil and milk and then we are ready for the fruit. At this point Herbie wanted to eat the berries. “I love blackberries mummy!” was shouted as little fingers kept picking them out of the bowl.

We poured the mixture into the muffin cases and went to make the topping.

This is a mixture of 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of plain flour and 40g of butter (measured in the Salter scales). Finally we added berries to the top. We made 15 muffins in total.

We set the Smiths kitchen timer (also orange!) for 20 minutes and wished the cakes “Good Luck” before they went into the oven (200 degrees) to rise.

Last job….of course is to eat them with a lovely cup of tea! Here, served on pretty pink Royal Winton china! We have a lovely 1 tier cake stand, small tea pot and a great tennis set. This is a plate with a space for a tea cup…tea and cake in the same hand…how very useful!

Berry nice!