My last few clients have asked for traditional designs for their living rooms based on Arts and Crafts Style. I wonder whether the current obsession with mid-century modern furniture and interiors is on the wane and Edwardian/Victorian style might be coming back in vogue. Or more likely it is because they live in Eastbourne and we have lots of grand Edwardian houses here, many of which have retained their original features: stained glass, decorative fireplaces with art nouveau influenced tiles and stripped pine doors and floors.
At first, I was struggling to come up with schemes that presented Arts and Crafts in a contemporary way and was not just a carbon-copy reproduction of the original style.
Stained glass is a feature of these houses, but it can often be difficult to incorporate it into a modern scheme, especially if it is in a living room, and the colours used in the original glass are not so popular now. In detached town houses built close together, where the sides of the house overlooked the neighbours, stained glass was often used in windows to let light in yet maintain privacy. I would let the stained glass dictate the colour scheme if possible, and pick out some of the colours in the curtains and upholstery.
In hallways and stairwells, which often had really elaborate stained glass, make a feature of this and add striped stair runners picking out the colours.
In this bathroom, old and new have been successfully combined by setting a modern bath, basin and taps with an old pine dresser. Green tiles on the dresser, and the decorative glassware reflects the green in the stained glass. Picture found on Periodliving.co.uk via Pinterest
Add period style with cast iron old school radiators, either polished or painted the same colour as the walls. Picture found on myscandinavianhome.blogspot.com via Pinterest. Beautiful wooden floors are a feature of Edwardian houses so leave them bare and add real wool rugs in simple designs to add warmth and texture.
In this living room, a contemporary paint treatment , painting the skirtings, walls, fireplace and ceiling the same colour, updates the look whilst still retaining the original features. Old and new integrates seamlessly with the display of modern art (especially the painting casually propped against the wall,) and contemporary red furniture contrasting with the original blue tiled fireplace. Fireplace Picture found on homedit.com via Pinterest
These William de Morgan tiles are typical of the ornate patterned tiles that were used to decorate fireplace surrounds. You need a simple wall treatment above the mantelpiece to set off the design so use a self-patterned wallpaper or paint in a colour picked out from the tiles. Very intricate Art Nouveau influenced designs were also popular.
Liberty and William Morris fabrics use archive prints but in modern colourways for a fresh,chic look.The Liberty print fabric above, based on the peacock feather motif which was so popular in Arts and Crafts style, is an outline version of an original 1890s print.
Wing chairs, very popular in Edwardian interiors and redolent of Gentlemens clubs, re-upholstered in bright funky colours combine a traditional shape with contemporary styling. Picture found on highestheels.tumblr.com via Pinterest
Victorian and Edwardian furniture was typically made out of dark wood, which has gone out of favour as it can feel oppressive and heavy. Purists would insist on keeping the wood dark but there’s no reason why you can’t re-paint it to fit in with your colour scheme. Simply sand down, paint with chalk paints, and wax.