Didn’t we do well, again

We had a great Christmas here at Your Vintage Life. And now it’s the clear up after 3 days of children mayhem! Before all the pressies get put away I thought I’d share some of the vintage ones (i.e. the best ones!).

Firstly the kids. Boy did santa bring a lot of toys….and clothes..and biscuits! When Herbie was asked what his favourite present was he thought long and hard. “I love all my presents” he said. “I really liked my biscuits”. Clearly the way to a boy’s heart is through his tummy!

Herbie got a new bedroom from Santa but I will leave that to another blog! He also got a train set (modern one) but there was room for a little bit of vintage. The 1980s Polaroid camera was a real hit. You load it with plastic discs that run over a wet sponge when they fire out. Just like old Polaroids pictures….flap them about a bit until they dry and a photo appears. It’s in great condition having lasted over 30 years….Herbie managed to drop it and chip it after only 3 hours!

Kitty fared much better in the vintage stakes. She got her retro fabric tortoise I blogged about some time back (read about it here). She got heaps of Fisher Price toys….a 1970s television, 1980s roller and the best of all…the 1960s pull along snoopy dog. She loved this, and has walked around pulling it since about lunchtime of Christmas day!

Boxing day the vintage continued with dolls and a lovely 1950s pram. She didn’t seem to get a look in though as her cousins (all boys) spent the afternoon pushing it around the house!

Then there was Mr YVL. The great thing about our job is we find vintage clothes all year round so I have collected 3 polo shirts dating from 50-70s. He put the caramel one on straight away so that was a hit!

He also got a Mucha calendar. Any regular readers will know we have a few Muchas in our lounge. He was an art nouveau artist but enjoyed a resurgence in the late 60s.

Yes, a calendar is a practical present but  with all the vintage fairs next year and inevitable children’s parties it’s probably about time he knew in advance what’s happening!

His last present was a Gaudi diary. We both love his architecture…..

and so we can see more of it as I have booked a very rare weekend off for us both to go away to Barcelona. I wonder where the flea markets are there????

Then for me. I really did well! I received 2 pieces of furniture for the house, one retro, one vintage.

This G plan stool with leather seat it gorgeous and sits perfectly in our lounge. (Read all about it here).

Then this 1950s fold down table is gorgeous and in amazing condition. Not sure where this will go yet but I’m sure I will find somewhere. It reminds me of last years folding 3 tiered table he bought which we featured this time last year (Read about it here)

I am dreaming of a pantry when we get round to doing the kitchen. A small cupboard full of shallow shelves filled with glass jars and tins. I have a huge collection already but hey this pantry in my head needs more! So more I got!

And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some Taunton Vale. This is the first year that I have been bought some though. It’s a chopping board to match all our storage jars, butter dish, tea towel etc etc!

Then there was 2 vintage dresses including the 10p 1950s dress I have blogged about before. This brown one is a Peggy French dress in mint condition. It has ballooned sheer sleeves, matching belt and a pussy bow neckline.

Finally the best present of all. A DRGM bracelet covered in rhinestones. We have been researching it since and all we know so far is it dates pre 1945 from Germany. It is truly stunning and ones things for sure…..I am a very lucky girl.

Now back to the cleaning and tidying……(not feeling so lucky now huh?)


Remember, remember the 5th of November

I have had such a great day today.

Thrifting for stock, eating great food with my lovely family, finished off with fireworks in the garden.

Today was auction day…I went to the auction and Mr YVL went thrifting elsewhere (where? I’m not telling!). We have the Furniture Flea next weekend so we wanted to stock up with retro loveliness…and boy did we!

We bought this gorgeous teak and vinyl chair. It goes perfectly with the lounge but will be for sale. I have already cleaned it up and it looks great.

Then we bought this vintage chair..it will be lovely in a little girls bedroom I think.

We also found this Kartell style unit with added orange tray. Now Mr YVL can’t resist anything orange but this one will be for sale! We havent cleaned it up yet..it will be positively gleaming when I’ve finished.

We found some fab accessories too. This pink 60s plastic light shade is brilliant. We’ve found white and orange ones before but never this shocking pink (it’s a lot brighter in real life)!

We have an orange bubble light too. Again, only ever had clear ones before and this colour is so vibrant. I broke the last one at Brighton’s Furniture Flea so must be more careful!

Mr YVL found this 1960s atomic coat stand. Isn’t he good!

Then we also bought a 1950s settee and chair and lots of coffee tables including a 1950s red cocktail topped one! And for us…we got a tiny childs Windsor elm chair for Kitty to sit on. Can’t show you any pics as they are still in the van!

Then we went and ate with the kids, then went shopping for Christmas presents in a  gorgeous independent toy shop…then home for fireworks. Wrapped up warm the kids sat on a vintage hand knit throw and ooohed and ahhhed at the display. Herbie only liked the ones that went BANG!

A really great day.. one to remember!


I have spoken earlier in the week about visiting my late Great Aunty Joan’s home to collect some treasures for us to keep and remember her life by. It was not an easy day by any means but I wanted to share some of her things.

You will see that both her and my Great Uncle Jack had great taste. They kept everything, valuing its function and it’s worth rather than spending loads of money on new un-needed things. I suppose they were frugal, but what they had was of great quality and probably not cheap. Their house was full of mid-century furniture in immaculate condition. They looked after their things which for me is fantastic….as I have some real treasures that can continue to live in my home and be appreciated by my family going forward.

My Aunty Joan was very intelligent, she had a degree in Horticultural Studies…which back then was rare for women to be educated. She worked for ICI using her studies as well as enjoying her garden in her spare time. She was a private lady, enjoying reading and her cats. What was interesting in her home was the lack of flamboyant “stuff”. There was not hoards of handbags and shoes, makeup and jewellery..which means the items that were there were treasured and used.

I have her dark green leather Ackery handbag with matching leather gloves and purse. It would have been a non showy piece back in the late 40s/early 50s. I love the colour (how rare is it to find dark green?) and grey silk lining. It oozes quality yet simple elegance.

I saved some soft toys for the children. The home-made elephant is so Cath Kidston isn’t it with its ditsy flowers on a soft needle cord. Paddington bear stands tall above the simple rag doll. I love things like this for our children: traditional and non plastic.

I have 2 pairs of curtains from their home. My Uncle Jack’s bedroom had these 1950s curtains hanging..they will go so well with our kitchen and Ercol day bed which will be in there too. I may hang them or make cushions.

I had ordered brown curtains for our new lounge from Next. But these high quality teal silk curtains are amazing in our new room. They don’t totally match the colour of the room but I think they are perfect.

This patchwork rug/throw is hand knitted and backed on to a quilted base. It was in her bedroom over a table…I think it will be lovely in my little girls room.

Then there was so much retro there too. I wrote about the 1960s bubble vase earlier, which now sits on our Arkana table. I work here so its fabulous to see in the morning when I start work. It has no chips and even its original sticker on.

The 1960s yellow glass mushroom light will hang on the landing.

And the cat, Peach, seems to have laid claim on the red vinyl footstool.

The Ercol chairs will be added to our collection (check out in our blog Ercol-lection).

She had lots of books but I was drawn to this one…what amazing reference material for my writing. I look forward to reading it.

Finally, I brought home my uncles shoe cleaning kit for My YVL. I love this old-fashioned styling.

And here are is a photo of my family. This is my Great Grandma and Granddad, my Grandma, my Great Uncle Jim and Aunty Lily and my mum aged about 10??? On the right is my Great Uncle Jack and Aunty Joan..she is the one holding the dog. My whole family. Minus my Granddad who I presume is taking the photo.

I am so glad that we took the time on Monday, however hard it was. The 3 generations of girls that are left…my mum, me and Kitty…went to see the house one last time.

I’m also so glad I am the person I am…who values possessions for their history, their style and their beauty. These treasures will live on in our home and our hearts.

Treasured things, treasured lives, treasured memories.

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.

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!