2012, A Vintage Year

Here is our latest article for Vintage Life magazine.

2012: A Vintage Year

January is such a cold month, so little money to spend! Start your healthy eating resolution with large home-made casseroles made in vintage enamel saucepans. Choose a 1940s large roaster or a groovy coloured 1960s pan, mix up the winter veg and leave to cook. Invite your friends to a social dinner to share stories of New Years Eve parties. Revive the tradition of sitting round the table, serving from vintage tureens to create your perfect vintage table setting.

February is the month of romance. Buck the trend of giving chocolates and pamper your loved one instead. Give pretty glass perfume bottles and dressing table sets that can sit in her room all year round. This year pick early flowering bulbs, tie together with a bow and attach a vintage brooch for a bit of sparkle. This is the year of showing you care through actions and thought rather than huge spend.

March is the start of spring therefore the time to embark on the annual clean. This year do it in vintage style wearing a 1950s pinny. Clean your cupboards then line them with vintage wallpaper offcuts to give a blast of pattern and cheer all year round. Read old housewife books for hints and tips of traditional ways to clean saving you money and time.

April is Easter time. This year enjoy home-made traditions by starting the day with hand painted eggs served in vintage eggcups. Arrange an egg hunt for friends and family, young and old. Everyone running around in the spring sun, carrying vintage baskets and collecting chocolate will bring laughter and joy and last much longer than the sugar rush.

May brings warmth at last, now it’s time to sort out the garden and pot up planters. This year use reclaimed and vintage pots, enamel bread bins and metal buckets will add real character to your patio. Paint the garden shed in pastels instead of brown, hang home-made bunting to create your own May Day celebrations. Get the barbecue out, invite friends over to impress them with your hard work.

June is all about our Dads. This year resist the urge to buy slippers and socks by adding some retro cool into his life. Give him a magazine subscription teamed up with a 1960s magazine rack, or an album (vinyl of course) by his favourite band sitting in a record rack. He’ll appreciate the thought even though his feet may be cold!

July is picnic time so get on your bikes and meet friends for a summer picnic. Take a handmade crochet rug and vintage parasol to keep off the sun. Choose a 1950s cased picnic set with pretty china cups and saucers or go for 1970s brightly coloured plastic. Wrap sarnies up in greaseproof paper, add hardboiled egg and homemade lemonade. Play old fashioned games like rounders in teams to work off your lunch, then lie in the sun all afternoon.

August is the time to get away. Reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to go camping instead of flying abroad. Relive the traditions of the 1950s by going away with friends and family, camping in a line of tents or caravans! Make it a vintage trip by packing a wind breaker, folding flowery chairs and loads of brightly coloured melamine crockery.

September is back to school! Introduce vintage to your workplace by adding a desk calendar, pen pot or letter rack. Fed up of tea from a machine? Take a teapot and teacup for your perfect tea at 3. If you work from home introduce a 1960s telephone to your desk. adding colour as well as a retro feel.

October and the clocks turn back and evenings start to get darker. Add a vintage clock to every room, an alarm clock for your bedside table, a 1960s kitchen clock or starburst for your lounge and hall. These days we tend to rely on our mobiles to tell the time so turn back the clocks literally this year and return to an age of ticking gently in the background.

November is bonfire night. It’s always cold so this year wrap up in vintage faux fur and chunky knits. Don’t dress the guy in your old clothes….pull out some modern cast offs to create a spectacular fire!

December is of course Christmas. This year have a Christmas Eve cocktail party and invite all your friends and neighbours. Wear vintage glamour and drink from gold rimmed glasses. Shake a mohito in a 1950s cocktail shaker, add ice to a pineapple bucket and pick up olives with candy coloured little forks. Play your old vinyl, have an old fashioned sing along and celebrate your vintage year!


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!

We’ve got it covered

I treated myself to 12, yes 12, vintage Woman’s Own magazines last week. They date from as early as 1939 with the latest being 1957. They are great inspiration for my magazine articles for Vintage Life magazine….sometimes a tiny piece, even an advert will trigger an idea off in my mind.

For those who regularly follow Your Vintage Blog, you will know we are totally renovating our 1920s home (read Our Patterned Palace for reference)….and the conversation cropped up about pictures  for the walls.

 I love the 1950s furniture and design, Adam loves the 1960s therefore selecting  original prints that we both agree on is quite hard. Also, finding them is a challenge in itself.

The plan is to frame the covers from these magazines so I chose them wisely. These are some of my favourites.

The lady on the red telephone dates amazingly from March 1945. Anyone who has read my articles on vintage phones will know in the 40s and 50s everyone had the choice of black or black..so a bright red one is so rare. The colour matches her lippy perfectly. This will hang in our hall above the vintage telephone table and our 1950s Ericofon phone…which is…green!

Now this one is stunning with quite a lot of flesh on show for….1939! Her skin is flawless and the red/white/blue towel is patriotic.

The next one will go in our bedroom. We have just hung 1950s wallpaper (soon to be blogged) which will offset this image perfectly. A lady is being tied into her tight bodice dress in an eye-catching emerald colour.

This dates from November 1948 and totally reflects Christian Dior’s New Look range launched in 1947 with tiny waists and full skirts. I love her shocking pink gloves!

The next dates from 1954 and is a Christmas edition. The model is called Audrey Dalton and I love her tassle edged hood.

This one dates from 1954 and shows the hat of the day. This Chinese influenced style was so chic (and I bought an original one in fantastic condition last week..but thats another story!)

I chose 2 more from the 1940s which are a lot smaller than the later and earlier ones. A dapper gent with a lady playing with his bow tie dates from August 1946.

I love the Winter Wonderland feel to this one from December 1946. Her dress is edged in yellow fur with matching gloves..she looks gorgeous.

I chose this one for the headline on the front “Good Homes on a Low Budget”. Dating from 1957 this will be great for my articles….as well as the 16 page pull out Holiday Guide. The model is wearing what looks like a hooded kagoul..maybe summers back then were are wet as now!

I chose the Coronation special for inspiration for any writing next year. Our Queen looks so young here.

Lastly, “So you want to a model?” has an elegant lady on the front from 1952. Her hat is so unusual, with curved sides and netting covering the bottom half of her beautiful face. Her black eye liner is great too…need to study this well to get mine looking better!

I have already chosen old soap powder adverts from the 1950s to frame and hang in the utility room.

So for pictures for the wall and ideas for the magazine, I would say We’ve got it covered!

Daddy Cool!

As Father’s Day is approaching, my children (with a little help from me) need to decide what to get their Daddy. The shops are full of mugs and T-shirts saying “I love my Dad” but we, at Your Vintage Life feel this isn’t really the way forward. Why not shower him with retro and vintage gifts so he is a real Daddy Cool!

(Luckily our man is a retro man so already a Daddy Cool!)

Here are some ideas that may help to inspire you..

First stop in our shop should be Your Vintage Office….does he work from home or in an office?

If so, why not get him a magazine rack…he could put his filing into it…or all those classic car mags we seem to have lying around the house! Surely this will look better than the classic “in” tray

Or a retro telephone? BT produced fabulous coloured phones since the 1960s which look great in a retro or modern setting! Our telephone collection is a little out of control (one in each room) so maybe I wont be buying another this Father’s Day!

Or one of these funky desk calendars? With one of these there’s never an excuse for forgetting the date therefore forgetting your birthday!!!

We love the orange one….and will look great on his desk.

Or does he like to groom??? These mens vanity, sorry grooming kits, are stylish and will look great on the bathroom shelf.

The pots are shiny stainless steel, the combs tortoiseshell and the case a soft brown leather. This is  the perfect gift to make him into a classic gent!

This hard brown case is stunning, with its original glass pots and silky lining. It even has its original key! Just imagine how smart the original owner of this must have been.

We also have a 1950s trouser presser in its original box made by Pifco. I love the styling…such a gentleman with his slicked back hair!

Or a 1950s boxed pair of clippers? Even if he doesnt want to use them, the packaging will look great on display! 

Now in my experience all men dream of being a whizz at the cocktail making…spinning the bottle around in a Tom Cruise fashion! Why not visit Your Vintage Cocktail Party for some ideas for your Dad…we have ice buckets, soda syphons, ice crushers and shot glasses. Add a bottle of whisky and I’m sure he will be thrilled!

All mens like a barbecue… FACT! We have fab picnic treasures for perfect outdoor dining afternoons (and evenings) perfect for this amazing weather we are having. Bright retro colours, space age shapes and durability..what more could he want! How about the 1960s bright orange Pac-A-Pic with its separate trays for the whole family?

If he loves his interiors, have a look at our coloured glass.

While some are very pretty and perfect for Mum, we feel the shapes of these 60s medicine bottles will be perfect for him. Display on a window sill so the light shines through them into the room…and be the envy of the neighbours!

We have blues, greens and ambers still available.

And finally, for the Dads that can actually remember the record “Daddy Cool”, what about a 1960s record rack…we have singles ones and LP ones…

Happy Father’s Day from Your Vintage Life x

Beauti-flea retro

We are selling at the upcoming Furniture Flea on 27th March. It is a retro furniture and homeware sale at Bethnal Green. The fair comes from the same team who bring Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair that we also sell through.

The aim is to sell mid century treasures at affordable prices…something a tad rare in London these days. And here is a little taster of some of our beauti-flea retro items that we will be bringing…

Dark elm Ercol coffee table and 60s retro tea set

 60s medicine bottles, Murano glass and chrome coffee tables

50s, 60s and 70s curtains

G Plan coffee table and West German ceramics

1950s room divider and Seaforth homewares

1960s lighting

 Retro telephone table and phone

If you like what you see, come and check out the Flea!