Beat the Monday Blues, Part 6

Beat the Monday blues by checking out something or someone we love. Here at Your Vintage Life, we feel it is important to share great finds with you all as well as support local business.

So this Monday, I introduce to you the wonderful Betty Bee.

For the Vintage Life magazine readers out there you will recognise Betty for her great D.I.Y projects featured. She arrived on our pages with a clear step by step guide to make a bench from 2 seats. Since then she’s made cake stands, foot stools and even covered a sun lounger.

Now a woman who is prepared to get her hands dirty and use a drill is my kinda lady. I remember when my ex husband came to get his stuff after deciding to leave….he came back for his horrid Reebok classics and his white shirts. He shoved them all in a bin bag, then proceeded to the large cupboard at the end of the hall. I started to tremble…not the tools, not the tools went around in my head. Out came the tools (they were his after all) and I actually found myself, out loud, declaring…”NOT THE TOOLS!”…I seem, again, to digress.

Back to Betty. She has a load more skills than just brandishing a drill. She is a writer, has an online boutique: Betty Bee Vintage, which sells fab printed T’s designed by herself. She  co-runs The Pamper Box fulfilling every girls dream: make-up, hair and cheese cake pin-up photography.  She also is a mummy, home maker, baker, blogger and crafter.

WOW! I hear you say….what doesn’t she do? I hear you say! She has impressed me with her creativity and drive but more importantly she is another vintage lovely who supports others in a positive fashion. She found some time for me last week to answer some of my questions…..

You appear to be involved in lots of exciting projects: can you explain exactly what you do?

I’m fortunate enough to work on a number of lovely projects including vintage inspired wedding photography and cheesecake pin-up photography with my husband at our company Betty Bee Photography ( I also design and make a range of vintage inspired homewares and tee shirts for my online boutique and run Vintage inspired workshops in hair and make up of the 1940’s and 50’s ( Most people probably know me a writer as I have a regular column in Vintage Life magazine and also work for The Guardian and Creative Crafting.

Phew! This must take some juggling….how do you do it all so well?

Well I never sleep ha ha! N,o I would be lying if I said working across so many projects was easy and now I have a little girl it isn’t any easier but I am ruthlessly organised and rather than jump from job to job I work on certain parts of my business interests on alloted days. I do write every day as I think its vital to discipline yourself and get into the “habit” of writing even a short blog post every morning. Writing is like a muscle, use it or lose it.

Any advice for someone wanting to get involved with similar projects?

Love what you do and be prepared to work hard. There is no denying that working for somebody else is easier. So much of your time when you are self-employed is spent on boring admin, tax, chasing up payments, finding new suppliers etc which when you are an employee gets done for you, there is however nothing quite as rewarding as receiving good feedback on something you have created all on your own. It’s additive and once the genie is out of the bottle there is no going back.

Your writing for magazines and in your blog has been really well received? Where do you get your ideas?

It’s the old cliché that you hear time and time again but write about what you know. I simply write about my life. If I need or want something I turn it into a craft project which in turn ends up on my blog or in a magazine. Obviously I sometimes get commissioned to write about things I hadn’t automatically thought about but in general I use my own hobbies, interests and life as my muse. I’m too lazy to think up things I think people will like. I just do my own thing and hope people will enjoy the ride.

When and why did you get into vintage?

I’ve always been attracted to the 1950’s. My favourite film as child was Grease (I wanted to be Rizzo though, not Sandy) The main attraction has aways been the clothes. I don’t know why as a teenager I was watching films like “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning” and reading “A kind of loving” when my classmates were all loving boy bands. I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum and loved looking at old magazines, listening to records from the 50’s and 60’s. I am however quite insistent that my take on it has to have a modern twist. I love the past but don’t want to look like I belong at a reenactment event. It’s about making taking vintage items and making them work in modern life.

What does a typical day look like for Betty Bee?

As my work is so varied no one day ever looks the same but there are some constants. I always kick off the day with a cup of earl grey tea, made in a tea pot and drank out of  a china cup, I catch up on e-mails, post up my blog and then do at least an hour of writing. Even if I’m not leaving the house I will put my hair in a victory roll and put on my slap. I’m a great believer in the power of red lipstick.After that it’s either a photography session, working on designs for the boutique or dealing with bookings for the Vintage Pamperbox. At 3.15 I down tools and go and pick up my little girl from school and become mum again.

What do you want to be doing in 5 years time?

I’m currently in talks about a number of book projects so I would hope to have a few Betty Bee books gracing Amazon and I would love my blog to be more successful. I would also like to see some of my designs on the high street (did I mention I never dream small ha ha!)

What are you most proud of?

My husband who is so creative and such a huge influence on everything I do (marrying him was the smartest thing I ever did) and my little girl who at five is already brighter and more at ease with herself than I was at 25)

How would your friends describe you?

My friends would, I hope, describe me as creative, hardworking, loyal and gregarious

What’s your most treasured possession?

(Apart from my family of course) it is probably a Garnet heart necklace my dad gave me shortly before he died

What’s your earliest fashion moment?

My earliest fashion moment was thanks to my very fashion forward mother. She dyed my babygros purple. Apparently when I weed it stained my legs blueberry!

Describe your perfect day

My perfect day would be day off with my family. A car boot sale bursting with amazing stuff for tuppence, lunch at the sweet pea cafe in west Kirby (I always have the falafel and chill jam) a walk around the marine lake which is literally on our doorstep and then home to watch some great old kids movie with my little girl (ET is always a big hit)

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for being a great mum, a great writer and a great laugh.

And finally, Who is Betty Bee?

Betty Bee is a Mother, Writer, Creative and tea belly

So there you have it…an insight into the great Betty Bee. Personally, I would just like to thank the power of Twitter. Through 145 characters I have managed to make friends with fellow vintage gals, Betty being one of them, who have offered laughter, advice and inspiration! If you havent tried it..check it out.

Betty Bee can be found on Facebook, Twitter or at her blog. Go see…..


This Weeks Giveaway: A crochet throw worth £25.

Simply: 1. Sign up to the blog 2. Leave us a comment about the blog 3. Tell your friends through Facebook, Twitter etc so they can join in the vintage fun!

Winner will be drawn on Thursday 6th October x


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




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!

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!