Herbie goes bananas!

Firstly, let me recap. We bought a huge renovation project back in February, in a lovely village called Cranfield. It took an age to find the right house as our demanding list exasperated all the estate agents. We wanted:

  1. Somewhere we could renovate not wanting to spend a premium for someone elses work (and as Mr YVL is a carpenter this obviously made sense)
  2. Somewhere we could add value too
  3. Somewhere in a village
  4. Somewhere near good schools (there were only 3 upper schools in the whole county I wanted to live near)
  5. Somewhere with a large garden as we grow our veg and have chickens
  6. Somewhere with a double garage for our camper van
  7. Somewhere where I could work from home and keep a lot of my stock
  8. Somewhere detached
  9. Somewhere with 4 bedrooms
  10. Somewhere where we could live with 4 adults in the future as we want to be here for a long time.

Phew, you can see why it took a while to find it! But we did, and last February we moved in.

It’s a 1920s house which hasn’t seen work since the 60s. It is our Patterned Palace (check out the blog here) with an array of swirls and patterns. It even came with it’s own starburst clock, lights, and phones that were thankfully left for us!

So slowly we have started to renovate. First job was to stabilise the chimney breast which had been removed and not supported. Mr YVL did that quickly himself. He then mended the holes in the roof and insulated the loft. Good job!

Next we did our bedroom. We were not planning on doing this as we had decided to start the garden first. We needed to dig the veg beds, plant all the fruit plants we divided from our last home and most importantly, give the chickens their new home.

One day I was feeling down about waking up in all the mess so I started to strip the wallpaper. Mr YVL came home from work, saw the wallpaper half down, got a little excited and took over! 2 weeks later the room was done with the lovely FiFi wallpaper from Sanderson. It’s an old 50s print which was found in someones loft! Read all about it here.

Next up was the playroom. Giving up one of the reception rooms was an excellent idea. No more CBeebies for me in the adults lounge! There was a horrid old gas fire which we couldn’t remove as it was integral to the boiler, so we built a cover. This is now a huge shelf for the vintage Fisher Price toys!! This room isn’t as bare as it looks here…it is now full of toys and pictures!!!

Next was the lounge. A white and teal retro affair all based around a Mucha print. Read all about it here.

Now to the present. This Christmas, Santa brought Herbie a bedroom! Anyone that has followed this journey will know that his room was by far the worst. The previous owners had removed the chimney breast from the room and left it unsupported. They then added french doors to an upstairs room with no balcony. On top of this was a wooden lintel which had rotted. This meant that the wall had dropped slightly. To add to this they hadn’t bothered to install a radiator so the room was damp from condensation. It was smelly from this so they locked the door and forgot about it. I remember when we looked round the house it was the room I didn’t fancy going in to even look at!

So, all that has been repaired by Mr YVL of course (clever man). A window has been added and of course, heating!

When we were moving we asked Herbie (only 2 years old at the time) what he wanted his room to look like. He thought long and hard putting his finger to his mouth in a comic thinking type way! He then announced “I’ve had a good idea!”. “Go on” we said.

“I would like a camper van room”. So a camper van room he has!

It’s full of modern stuff of course (the only room so far!) but there are some lovely handmade touches. Our friend Kim made 3 canvas paintings for him.

Caroline from Dotty’s Heart (read all about her here) made him a picture for his door.

I had made a canvas of photos of our camper van, Florence!

There is even a great photo of us a few years back in a Herbie beetle!

His campers are all out on display including his 1970s Fisher Price one.

And of course, no room can get away without a 60s light, a retro mirror and a bin!

So, on Christmas Day Herbie got his room and yes, he went bananas!


Lounging around

We have finally finished our 3rd room in our house renovation. The lounge has taken a while as there was so much to do and its a double room too.

So lets cast our minds back to how it used to look.

Red swirled carpet with contrasting walls. The woodwork was all painted dark brown.

An office suspended ceiling with horrid tiles was above the whole room. Why anyone would do that throughout the ground floor of your home is beyond me. It didn’t even mask a bad ceiling.

A hatch and awful huge built-in display cupboard with brick surround was a feature. An old-fashioned gas fire and brick surround took over one half of the room. Overall it was dark and gloomy.

The plus points were the retro wall lights and starburst clock that the previous owner left for us. Check out all the original house in our blog “Our Patterned Palace”

So we ripped it all out (except the hatch). Firstly the display cabinet has become a storage cupboard that doubles up as our filing office space! We have some 70s retro filing cabinets for all our bits and bobs here too.

The walls are white except a large teal wall. We based the colour scheme around 2 Mucha prints. Mucha designed art nouveau advertising posters which became popular in the early 70s when the art nouveau look made a comeback. Homes were filled with his swirls teamed with William Morris prints. We also have one cushion with these 2 colours in, so slowly we planned the scheme.

The floors are painted cream the same as all our rooms so far. Add our G Plan teak furniture, 70s rugs and Italian glass and the rooms almost done.

Our 1960s cream vinyl and teak bar is in between the 2 halves of the room with our modern record player behind. The vintage record player is in a teak box beside it.

The swivel chairs were Mr YVLs grandmas, which she bought in 1968. The footstool goes so well which I picked up earlier this year from an antiques fair.

Some of our 1960s medicine bottles have come out of storage (there’s loads more but we havent got to them all yet!). The amber ones were also Mr YVLs grandmas. The large orange West German pot was a moving in present from me to him back in February. And yes, there’s a modern TV…one of the few modern things in the room!

Our 1950s drinks cabinet houses  my glass collection. Luckily we only had one casualty in the move..I love my collection and wouldn’t be without it! The cocktail shakers are gorgeous!

All our William Morris cushions adorn the sofa next to another Mucha print and our orange rocket lamp. We had a sofa in one of these designs back in my family home in the early 70s.

It is 150 years this year since Morris was born!

The new Arkana table and chairs looks great and take pride of place in the other half of the room. This is the adult lounge so this space is now for me to sit at my laptop in peace away from the kids. It sits under our 3 bulb white space age light and our J.H. Lynch print.

It’s called The Nymph: Herbie asked if it was me the other day!

The fireplace isn’t finished yet..it will have a wood burning stove there soon. The curtains are on order.

We have new bookshelves designed and built by Mr YVL.

I love it. It’s still a little bare but give us time it will look lived in and homely.

Another Patterned Palace

Any regular readers of our blog will know we have bought a Patterned Palace which we are totally renovating. Every wall and floor was covered in retro patterns..some good and some darn ugly! Slowly we are ripping it out and replacing it with, to be fair, not that much pattern.

I love wallpaper and prints but I find it hard to mix them together with all our treasures to make a calm, stylish finish. There is definitely a fine art to it.

Which this couple, in my opinion, have nailed. Heather from Eclectic Chair (remember those gorgeous cushions featured some time back in Beat the Monday Blues, Part 1) has shared her home with us today.

Her and her partner have successfully mixed patterned walls with patterned furniture, cushions and prints. The result is fantastic.

I personally love their style and our lounge which is nearly complete, has similar objects in it to theirs. I love the prints on the wall, especially the Tretchikoff Green Lady (which I have been after for years). I love the medicine bottle (I have literally hundreds of these..well about 15!).

She describes her home,  “It is a joint effort, my partner spends just as much time scouring Ebay and charity shops as me! It’s a compromise between both our different styles, I try to reign in his masculineness, and he reigns in my girlyness, and the result is pretty good”

I agree! What they have done well is choosing one base colour which is in the pattern as well as the furniture or floor. Then  add accent colours: I love the orange in the office area and the blues in the lounge. See for yourselves and let me know what you think!

For more information on Eclectic Chair visit their website and Facebook page

10 things that changed our lives…

or at least our homes!

This is our latest article for Vintage Life magazine….the top 10 countdown of things that impacted our homes and therefore our lives.

Number 10: The Duvet

Originating from Europe in the 17th century, the feather filled duvet changed the look of our bedrooms, increased our comfort as well as saving our time back in the 1960s. Discovering them on our travels, we rejected the stifling blankets and eiderdowns of our parents, choosing instead the ease of less washing, the speed of making the bed and the warmth it provided.

Number 9: The Shower

Before the shower arrived to make our mornings quicker, families used a pastel coloured plastic plug-on shower head fitted to the bath taps. Washing your hair took an age and when you turned the water faster it flew off the taps. Invented in Roman times, based on a waterfall, its quite amazing it took until the 1970s to change the face of our bathrooms.

Number 8:The Fitted Kitchen

Before the 1950s, kitchens contained large free-standing cupboards which left little room to work in let alone eat in. The fitted kitchen revolutionised homes providing a sleek and efficient workspace for the 50s housewife. Originating in Germany, the focus was on ergonomics as well as a great design. Worktops were made from Formica, easy to clean and came in a variety of bright colours. As space had been freed up some families added a table to create a social eating space although most had a hatch between the kitchen and dining room to pass food through. American appliances became popular, creating a state of the art look with fridges and blenders. By the 1960s everyone had one and kitchens have never looked back.

Number 7: The Freezer

Strange to think that before the 1970s the only frozen food we had was in the small compartment at the top of the fridge. The introduction of pre cooked frozen food had a huge impact on the working woman, who before now shopped daily and cooked from scratch every night. She could now cook in advance and store it or just choose quick TV dinners with ice cream to follow.

Number 6: Plastic

After the Second World War the boom in manufacturing meant we had better, stronger plastics and melamines to fill our kitchens with. In the 1950s, the introduction of Tupperware enabled women to leave the kitchen to host parties as well as keep their food fresher longer. Outdoor dining became popular with brightly coloured Melaware plates and bowls used, heralding the move away from bone china even on your picnic.

Number 5: The record player

The portable record player in the late 1950s changed teenagers lives forever. Sitting in their bedrooms with all their friends, dancing to rock and roll and comparing vinyl, it gave them a sense of belonging and increased popularity due to the size or content of their collection. Singles were loaded in stacks to ensure continued play with the Dansette being the most popular. Before this, bedrooms were just a place to sleep, with all music listened to on the family’s gramophone downstairs.

Number 4: The washing machine

The biggest status symbol in the 1950s wasn’t a handbag but a twin tub! The washing machine saved housewives precious time as previously they had to hand wash everything, using a washboard and mangle. Life became even easier in the 1960s with the introduction of man-made fabrics which could be thrown into the tub for the first time. Adverts popped up, promising freedom to women with slogans such as “The neighbours are beginning to talk about me!” (now that she can cavort around town due to having a washing machine). However, in reality most women were actually in a launderette until the late 1970s.

Number 3: The telephone

Imagine life before the telephone (and internet for that matter)…having to write a letter or visit someone to have a chat. The telephone not only changed the way we communicated but also the purpose of our hallways. The first home phones in the 1930s were black and serious with later models designed in brighter colours and modern shapes. Located in the hall, often on a special telephone table, they were positioned in a place that ensured everyone could hear your conversation yet were far away enough to not interrupt your family meal.

Number 2: The television

Like it or loathe it the television has impacted our homes and lives radically. Invented before the war it took until the 1950s for families to have one in their homes but even this was rare. It had a 9 inch screen with one channel, was black and white and was broadcast for only a few hours a day. For national celebrations whole streets crammed into one front room to share the experience together. For the first time the news was seen rather than heard therefore becoming more real. Nowadays it has become the focus of the home, with one in each room and dinner served on the sofa making the dining room and family meals redundant.

and at number 1: The Refrigerator

Invented in the 1920s yet not becoming popular until the 1950s, the fridge has truly impacted the architecture of our homes as well as keeping our lemonade cool. Before it, homes had a separate larder or pantry room at the back of the house to store perishable items. With this invention, the room was no longer needed resulting in many families finally bringing in the outdoor toilet to make their first bathroom. As building progressed through the 20th century, the bathroom moved upstairs leaving space for a much larger kitchen at the back of the house. A fitted kitchen was bought, a table added and all because of the humble fridge!


Cheer up the rainy days and your autumn wardrobe with This Weeks Giveaway! This lovely vintage necklace in glorious autumnal colours could be yours….

Simply: 1. Sign up to the blog 2. Let us know which brolly you like best in last Thursdays blog by leaving us a comment 3. Tell your friends through Facebook, Twitter etc so they can join in the vintage fun!

Winner will be drawn on Thursday 29th September x




Turning back the clocks

Gosh, it has been a whole year of writing for the great Vintage Life magazine. A year ago we wrote this article for the autumn edition………and we never blogged it!! So here it is!

Turning back the clocks

Remember that feeling of when, as a child you started the new year at school? Full of anticipation with shiny new shoes and a packed pencil case, full of tales of a glorious summer holiday in 6 weeks of hot sun. Well now is the time to feel that optimism again. Just swap the new stationary set for bright retro home accessories that will keep you happy until you get those Christmas decorations out.

So, turn back the clocks this Autumn with our great ideas to inject colour into your life and your home.

Home Furnishings

Curtains, cushions, wallpaper and rugs all made a major design change in the 50s with the introduction of bright patterns in contrasting colours. Patterned wallpapers next to different patterned curtains with clashing bright carpets was the new style. But this was all still quite expensive and in reality only the brave had this look in their homes.

However, this all changed with the arrival of Habitat in the 60s. It brought affordable and funky style to the baby boom generation who were leaving home and discovering their own individuality. With money to spend and an optimistic outlook for a brighter future they wanted their own homes to be colourful, psychedelic and fun. Living rooms were often orange in theme with now matching accessories; the clashing style of the 50s was left behind.

With this generation marrying and settling down in the 70s, more muted tones in browns and golds with organic patterns and shapes were introduced. The art nouveau revival seen at Biba, had an impact on furniture, fabric pattern and prints which meant that William Morris designs made a major come back.

As the days get shorter, draw the curtains early evening and snuggle up on the sofa. Add a splash of colour to your lounge by hanging retro curtains and scattering cushions in bright oranges, yellows and purples. The funky flowers will remind you of summer and take you back to the days before Ikea and mass produced style. We live in a generation of magnolia walls with taupe eyelet curtains…buck this trend by injecting a burst of retro zing against a white wall to bring a smile to your face after a long day at work.


The revolutionary design of the Ericofon brightened up Swedish homes from the late 40s. This was the first marketed phone incorporating the handset and dial together (maybe a forerunner for the mobile phone) and came in 18 colours but interestingly, never black. In Britain, however, we continued with the serious black bakelite phone well into the early 60s.

A phone was something you hired from the GPO, it was for the adults and most homes didn’t even have one. The arrival of the BT 700 series in the 60s changed the face of our communication as well as brightening up our teak telephone tables. These were called the “modern telephone” and were available in 7 colours. Only a third of us were brave enough to have a coloured version though, the popular still being black and cream. BT introduced the idea of swapping colours to bring a change to your décor but as this cost money our parents chose a safe colour. Phones continued to develop with new colours and space age shapes though the 70s and 80s with the Trimphone and the Genie, before returning back to the more serious black of phones today.

A retro phone really stands out in our modern world, a key piece of retro heaven with an old fashioned ringer. Sit and chat to your friends on the landline, remembering how this was the way you arranged to see them, long before texts and Facebook.

Vases and bowls

Handblown glass has been made for centuries, but after the war designs started to emerge in new shapes, styles and colours just like other homewares. From the 60s onwards we bought into a new funky look with heavy vases and bowls. Murano glass from Italy with its new fluid cased creations and the kitsch look of English Chance handkerchief bowls all brightened up our G Plan sideboards.

The cased Murano form from Italy has a clear glass casing that houses a brightly coloured shape within it, creating a beautiful layered effect. Adding extra colours into the mix meant that when the sun shines through it, different colours are seen reflected through. The most famous and desirable was Flavio Poli’s “sommerso” range.

Here in Britain in the late 50s, Chance Glass introduced the handkerchief bowl. Based on the early Murano style, these contempary versions captured the spirit of the 50s with candy colours and kitsch patterns. They were also mass produced with set patterns (gingham, polka dot, swirls, stripes and textures) available in a variety of colours.

Create a statement this autumn with a retro glass bowl in the centre of your coffee table, a group of different shapes and sizes in a cluster on a shelf or simply choose an elegant bud vase on your dining table to introduce a blast of beautiful colour to your home.

The final touches

Forget Back to School, now is the time to add some retro style to your desk be it in your home or at your office. Bridge the gap until the Christmas holidays by introducing a 60s phone, a floral cushion for your chair, a West German pot for your pens or a 50s magazine rack for your papers. Impress your work mates this Autumn with your bright accessories like you used to impress your school friends with your matching rubber and sharpener!

Enjoy….It’s not long ’til Christmas!

One small step for man, one giant leap for our homes!

Here is our latest article for Vintage Lige magazine..all about how the space race in the late 50s and 60s influenced the design of our homes.

One small step for man, one giant leap for our homes!

Space exploration during the 1960s was not just about NASA officials and the competition to see who would successfully reach the moon first. It influenced everyone on the ground too, even impacting the design choice in our homes.

The Space Age began in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, followed with the first man in space in 1961. One of the defining moments in modern history happened in 1969, when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon. This decade started and ended with a fascination of the unknown and a great belief in the future. Television didn’t escape the excitement either with programmes such as the Jetsons characterising life in 2062, with high tech gadgets and a space influenced home. Before this, the focus was on the past, now we were aiming to the future….far into the 21st century.

Every part of the house was affected. Lighting, ceramics, furniture, fabric, clocks and even toys took on space age shapes made from newly developed plastics.

Beam me up…

The biggest impact was on lighting. At a time when the Victorian reproduction look was booming, spaceship like shades emerged with interwoven pieces made from gently folded plastic or metal. Furniture designers of the time also got on board with Guzzini’s pull down mushroom light and Panton’s astronaut helmet inspired lamp. For budgets that couldn’t stretch to these, the choice was a simple paper moon shade.

The defining lights of this era were both rocket shaped. The lava lamp was designed in 1963 but didn’t become popular until later in the decade. The hippy generation loved its psychedelic feel, but with its torpedo shape and flowing lava inside, it is reminiscent of outer space.

The rocket lamp made from spun resin was a must have in the 1960s. Standing on 3 teak legs, the orange rocket is tall and eye catching….and lit up sends a warm glow around the room.

Furnishing your pod!

Furniture also embraced this love affair with all things space related. Many people rejected the country cottage pine trend, instead choosing new radical shapes and materials. Chairs became pod like with popular styles such as the Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair, with its winged back and metal swivel base. Even wicker joined in with the ceiling hung pod. The Arkana table captured the mood perfectly with the free flowing lines of its tulip base. With the addition of a glossed white finish it looked futuristic and sleek.

The ultimate space design was Panton’s inflatable chair, designed as early as 1960. However, it was his S chairs that literally defied gravity. This one piece of free flowing plastic took an amazing 10 years to produce with the end result being stackable, brightly coloured and still influences furniture design today.

Complementing the look

Clocks became a feature in the 1960s, desired for their style rather than just function. Metamec’s starburst clock was seen as modern with its glossy moon like face and teak spikes. Candle holders were often on 3 legs with the candle forming the rocket.

The 1960s kitchen got involved too, using the newly fashionable and durable melamine. Egg cups in flying saucer shapes brightened up the home as well as camping trips. The ultimate in space age influenced design is the Caddy-matic: a rocket shaped tea dispenser. Designed by Arthur Douglas, they were wall hung, sprung loaded and always in bright colours.

The science behind it all

While the 1960s look was rocket shaped, the 1950s was influenced by the planetary world. At the Festival of Britain, great displays of molecular structures explaining our universe were shown to millions in the newly built Dome of Discovery. The focus here was on the science behind what would be achieved in the next decade.

New designs for the home had brightly coloured ball feet, hooks for the wall resembled the science seen in the dome, magazine racks, coat stands and planters all joined in creating a modern look to complement silver metal legged chairs and kidney shaped tables. Still seen today, they are a great way to add a 1950s look to your home.

Both Lucienne Day and David Whitehead designed textiles for the festival.. New bark cloth designs emerged covered in stylised planet forms, always with Saturn’s rings, which were joined by bright swirls and spindly drawn connectors. Even the plant designs such as Day’s Calyx is reminiscent of the atomic world with rocket shaped flower heads again with the fine lines connecting each plant.

Nothing since has impacted home wares on such a scale as this, except maybe world travel. Ironically, interior design recently has been influenced by the past, replicating this space age look…the look that actually focused on the future. Modern retailers now sell almost exactly the same pieces…but the originals are still out there to be found. The way we are going our homes will actually look like the Jetson’s, in 2062!

Our Patterned Palace

We finally moved into our new house last week and we wanted to share some of the retro lovelies that awaited us. It is a 1920s house in need of total refurbishment….as it is totally set in the 1960s. Yes, yes, we do love the retro look but perhaps to a modern standard.

Every room is covered in 60s wallpaper…some good, some bad, some down right ugly!

 Let us know which you love and don’t love…

The amber one is in the hall…I love it but it will be ripped out as we are moving the stairs so it will become a natural casualty.

The pink flower power look is in the spare room and i love it. Our cream vintage furniture will look stunning against it.

The wall effect in the hall is definitely going! It is up against parquet flooring which is lovely but alas will also be going with the stairs moving. Or maybe we could just add some more…

I think the lounge walls and floor speak for themselves!

Kitty’s bedroom wallpaper is so pretty and looks gorgeous next to her shabby chic, white furniture and original bedroom fireplace.

The kitchen’s 70s tiles will be ripped out! They are along side bright blue walls…not the best colour scheme.

Our bedroom has a 60s psychedelic pink wall..I quite like it but it is not in good condition.

The landing carpet is spectacular!

The last owners left us a few gems which we may well keep..let us know your thoughts!

A 1980s car phone! I have never seen one before and may have to stay!

The starburst clock is bold and works!

The wall lights in the lounge with their teak background goes well with our furniture.

And finally I totally love the 1950s fire guard..never seen one before and looks great in the spare room!

We intend to blog the whole renovation so keep reading for news on which wallpapers are lost from our patterned palace!

And I will let Herbie have the last word…from the 1960s hatch!