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!

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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!

Simply Medicinal

We have a great selection of retro glass medicine bottles for sale. They look great in a cluster of different colours, in front of a window with the light shining through making their colours vibrant and bright.
The first one I discovered is a dark green, really tall one that was my Grandmothers. In old photos of the family it is seen on the window sill. It was then in my own home growing up.
It now sits on my bathroom window sill, taking pride of place amongst other Whitefriars and Murano glass collected over the years. It may not have been made by the glass greats but I love it for it’s simplicity and stature.
Have a look at the green, blue and smokey grey ones in Your Vintage Home/vases and bowls.