Christmas treasure

I blogged some time back about my Aunty Joan and her wonderful things that I now have to treasure. (Check out the blog Treasured) Well, today we re-found the best item that was given to me last year.

Before I share it with you, here’s a vintage lovely I have blogged about before.

I have picked holly and berries from the garden today for a table decoration. We are lucky enough to have 3 different types of holly bush in our new home. I have made a display in the large blue bubble vase that was hers. It sits pride of place on the Arkana table.

The real treasure is this very old metal candle holder. Light 4 candles and when the heat rises the chime bells ring and the cherubs spin. I noticed last night in Kirsty’s Homemade Christmas programme she features one at the ad break…it chimes beautifully. I am so lucky to have one and the fact that it was my Great Aunts and Uncles is even more magical.

I know nothing about them, I have infact never seen one before last year…and now Kirstie Allsop has one. If anyone else has one please let me know!


Last week’s weakness

My weakness is shopping. Actually, not just shopping. My weakness is shopping, thrifting, collecting….I can’t drive past a car boot sale without dropping in, I can’t visit a new town without thrifting through the charity shops, I can’t ignore a sign saying “Garage Sale” be honest I can’t even drive past a skip without meer-catting my neck up to see if there’s any bounty inside.

So maybe I should share with you my fact here is last week’s weakness.

I simply fell in love with this 1950s dress last week and had to buy it. It will be perfect for a wedding I have in a few weeks time.

It is a chiffon feel material and layered over a lining so the main part is not see through. The colours are roses which is such a classic look.

I love the rolls over in a wide neck at the front and forms a V back. The collar points at the back which is a really nice detail.

The bodice is tight with a nipped in waist. The skirt flares out and looks great with my petticoat which matches!

The sleeves are 3/4 length, sheer with slight puffed shoulders. The cuffs are folded.

It is in stunning condition and will complement Mr YVL’s vintage navy 3 piece suit perfectly.

Not sure which bag to choose to accompany it…how about my 50s American barrel box bag?

What do you think?

Flat-pack Backlash!

Here is our latest article for Vintage Life Magazine called “Flat-pack backlash”. Why not have a read……

The Flat-pack Backlash!

Today’s modern furniture comes in a flat box with an Allen key and a set of instructions. Often the end result is a flimsy, soulless cabinet which is the same as everyone else’s.  Maybe it’s time for a flat-pack backlash?

As it’s the 60th anniversary of  the Festival of Britain this May, where we showcased to the world that British design was innovative, contemporary and beautiful… lets look back and fall in love again with mid century furniture appreciating it’s history, sturdiness and sleek design.

The 40s:

In 1943, the government outlined the exact specification for furniture made during the war.  In a time when bombed houses were being rebuilt and many newly weds were setting up home, they  formed a committee of influential designers, to create the Utility Furniture Catalogue. They dictated the design, material and even which screw should be used. The designs were simple, functional alluding to the Arts and Crafts movement. Cabinets sat on plinths rather than legs, handles were wooden as metal was scarce and most were made from strong oak and dark mahogany. Even though the committee saw this as their big
chance to influence the country with “good design”, most pieces were plain, looking to the past rather than the future.

The 50s:

Enjoying a growing sense of optimism and freedom, we now demanded a change in our homes. The Utility dark wood was seen as gloomy, the design drab and with aluminium, fabric and light wood becoming readily available again it seemed that a change was needed in furniture design.

In 1951, the Festival of Britain on London’s South Bank was a real turning point.  It’s aim was to create a feeling of recovery and  inspire better design for new towns being built. 8 million visitors came to see contemporary architecture, industrial and furniture design. Room sets were created with modern furniture offset against the new fabrics and prints of the day. The wood had turned light overnight, with English elm and light oak being the favourites. Legs on all furniture were thin and splayed making them seem to float off the
floor. Chairs and tables were curved and traditional styles reworked into the new look.  Ercol was one of the key players with their simple yet elegant Windsor chair, dining tables and sideboards.

Ercol’s elm is a great range to collect now as it sits perfectly in both a modern or classic setting. The iconic butterfly chair (1958), the nest of pebble tables (1956) and the day bed are ones to look out for.

These new styles were labelled “contemporary furniture” and for the first time since before the war the chair you sat on revealed your status. It was quite expensive so in reality only middle class families bought it, with the higher classes preferring Heals and Harrods. Furniture retailers chose not to sell it as traditional styles outsold it, so it was left to the independents.

The 60s:

The 1960s saw the rise of teak furniture from well respected manufacturers such as G Plan, Nathan and McIntosh. They made functional items such as sideboards but gave them a contemporary feel with extra width (some were up to 7 foot), integrated handles and a gloss finish. Adverts sprung up, creating an aspirational world of men drinking cocktails
in the lounge, ladies putting on lipstick in the bedroom. Before this, adverts were about the room set now it was about the lifestyle. Styles were popular through the 1970s with G Plan becoming one of the first companies to sell mass produced furniture.

Teak furniture now looks great in a modern home with it’s clean lines and simplicity. With a cream wall and a stained floor, a 60s sideboard or coffee table will look as contemporary now as it did then.

However, this modern style, whether in elm or teak wasn’t to everyone’s taste. The baby boom generation, leaving the family home in the late 60s rejected this “contemporary furniture” as being outdated. They saved up for one key piece such as a Sanderson sofa with William Morris fabric or a Habitat chrome glass table.

Interestingly they now inherited their grandparents utility furniture and up-cycled it to give it a new fresh, modern look. Tables were painted in black or white gloss which sat perfectly underneath funky coloured glass, proving that the designs had passed the test of time.

What is clear is that through the mid 20th century, furniture kept reinventing itself under the name Contemporary, with each decade and generation rejecting what came before. These pieces have  become collectable and ironically the flat packers are alluding to these
styles now. Whether you up- cycle some utility or hunt down a Nathan, surely its worth the effort to create an individual look that’s not the same as your neighbours!

Dream tureen

The soup tureen isnt seen much anymore! We rarely sit at a table to eat, let alone serve  dinner up in the best china.

In years gone by, families would come together every Sunday, Easter and Christmas Day and enjoy a table full of dinner. Meat would be carved at the table, served on large ceramic platters. Seasonal vegetables and soup would always be served in a ceramic lidded tureen.

Tureens have been around a long, long time.

It was reported that President Washington had 3 soup tureens on his dining table; it was usual to only use 2 so he was very extravagent!

500 years ago soup was the main meal served in a lidded tureen with a matching plate underneath. The lid would have a hole for the ladel so the soup could be served. Ladels were silver but later they would also be made from ceramic with a matching design on.

Smaller tureens were developed so each person had their own soup which was drunk directly from the bowl.

The word tureen has not been around so long though.

It did not appear in dictionaries before 1800 and actually derived from a misspelling of the word “terrine” in old cook books, meaning an earthenware pot or vessel.

Some think the word came from Marshal Turenne, a soldier who drank his soup from his helmet!

The original tureen would have been made from silver or pewter. In the 1700’s earthenware tureens were introduced as part of dinner services . 

It was seen as the most important part of the service: the “art” piece which took pride of place in the middle of the table.

Here at Your Vintage Life, we love the tureen and feel it needs a resurgance! We have a matching pair of retro 70s ones with groovy flowers on….when asked to bring a dish to a party we always make a veggie chilli and take it round in the tureens…so much better than a pyrex dish!

We have a great selection for sale at the moment dating from the 1920s through to the 1960s.

Why not arrange a dinner party, invite your best friends and lay the table with your best china…with your dream tureen sitting pride of place in the middle!

Shaken not stirred

We were given a great pair of vintage champagne glasses recently to celebrate the birth of our second child. Kitty Jen was born in July and the champagne definately flowed.


They are really unusual and I havent seen any glasses like this before. They are the perfect his and her glasses and are so kitsch! They look a bit Spanish with her flat hat cocked to the side. The rimmed bases give them a touch of colour which I love.





They now sit in our 1950s glass cabinet along with our other vintage glasses and cocktail shakers. We found the cabinet thrown away outside someones house…we rescued it, cleaned it, re-painted it and added a mirror to the back. We have 2 1950s drinks cabinets..the other houses my 1950 handbag collection!

Here are some of our other lovelies.  Great 1950s frosted pastels…I use these for Baileys in the winter…the colour reminds you of summer on those cold nights!

Great branded glasses…Cherry B, Britvic and Babycham.

The Britvic ones have tomatoes, oranges, lemons and pineapples on. We also recently found matching champagne glasses. The Cherry B’s are my favourites…Now I don’t remember Cherry B at all…but I love the 50s feel of the kitsch cherries (although the glasses and the drink were later). Babycham glasses are the ultimate in retro drinking….I do love these glasses….when my partner proposed he had hidden a bottle of champagne in our VW campervan (hoping I would say yes) and after I did say yes we sat and drank it out of the Babycham glasses. So very glam!

Great 50s shot glasses in a red atomic ball feet stand. We have so many shot glasses in different colours and designs and we dont ever use them! I just can’t resist!

Decanters…These are so pretty, perfect to pour a shot as the stoppers fill up when you turn them upside down.

Great jugs (!). The pink frosted one is really heavy and perfect for cocktails. The gold flower one was given to me by my mother in law last birthday with matching glasses.

1930s cocktails…so so so pretty! I use these for deserts….or dips for a starter.

1980s cocktails…I havent used these ones. Every time we have a cocktail party I worry about using them as I have a full set and I dont want them smashed in the raucousness!

These were given to me for Valentines Day a few years back. I was lucky enough to receive 6 of these highballs in mint condition! The colour is so vibrant and they are a great size.

My absolute favourite frosted blue glass cocktail shaker. When you see the metal ones used today you just can’t believe that people used glass ones. I worry about breaking it with all that shaking!

And no collection would be complete without an original cocktail bar! This one is made from cream vinyl and teak. It houses our record player…complete with pineapple ice bucket on top! The ice bucket is unusually made from metal with each leaf curving outwards.

Here is a small selection of our current stock great for Your Vintage Cocktail Party. Get the Pimms out, summers not quite over! (and there are loads more available too including ice buckets, little forks, soda syphons and bowls for your peanuts!)

My birthday bag

It was my birthday last week and I received the loveliest handbag! It is a wicker box bag by a company called Midas of Miami. They made fabulous bags which epitomise the 1950s style with gorgeous adornments.

This one has tiny white seed beads all over the front and lid, tightly packed together to give an amazing texture. It has silk flowers embroidered onto the beads in pretty pinks, green and coral which give the bag it’s delicate feel.

It has 2 handles which are covered in cream and gold that fold down either side of the bag. This is Midas’s trade mark handle. Inside is lined with a peach silk with compartments for your lipstick and mirror.

You sure were an elegant lady to have had one of these! Imagine her teaming the bag with a floral cotton day dress with nipped in waist and full skirt, flat pumps and sun hat, walking along the Miami promenade.

Here is a selection of my other 1950s American handbags including another great Midas one.

Dorset Rex lucite and metal woven box bag with matching compact.

Unmarked huge kitsch vinyl shopper with buttons and bows.

Atlas Princess Charming wicker bag with 3D kitty.

Atlas window pane bag with poodles and lucite handles.

Another Atlas one with butterflies.

Unmarked orange straw and vinyl shopper

Metal and embroidered Tyrolean, Inc

Classic 50s poodles by Midas of Miami. A similar one is shown in Judith Miller’s book “Handbags” on page 301. And when you have these lovelies you need a 50s drinks cabinet to display them (and keep the kids fingers off them!)

I wish it was my birthday every day!

(why not join our group on Vintage Network Worldwide called “I can’t live without my vintage handbags” to meet other handbags lovers and share photos)