Still hooked on Google books this week, I ran across a windfall of midcentury interiors that I thought to share with you guys today. Alexander Smith carpet advertisements may lure you in initially with their promises of "floor-plan rugs" in broadloom with names like "Barbizon" and "Balboa" (alliterative, too!), but I was so distracted by the furniture and interior design of these showrooms, I hardly had time to focus on the carpet at all! These beautiful domestic tableaux make me want to start slinging furniture and painting walls!
Let's take a look:
This is honestly what initially lured me away from today's planned post about a Gregory Peck movie (there's time enough to talk about that tall drink of water)-- apparently, a practicing lepidopterist lives in this swank city dwelling. Things to notice-- the gallery spacing of the framed butterflies in shadow boxes, the circular, tripod legged end tables, the square yellow couches, and the accent chair in a weird, beautiful, possibly Asian-inspired print. If you told me an almost-grey-lavender, Hershey's brown, and pale yellow were in your design scheme, I would tell you you were out of your cotton picking mind, but look how fresh and inviting these colors look in this room. I usually hate dark colored walls with a passion (do you want your already-small room to invite comparisons to a dungeon?), but the yellow and lavender mediate the brown into dramatic rather than dismal interior design territory.
The textured rug in this picture does give the room a little more "oomph", but what I'm crazy about is that raw wood wall above the fireplace and that Brady Bunch style open staircase. The floor lamp and the lipstick red chairs are fantastic, but how about that colonial eagle on the hearth? One interesting aspect of early fifties' design, which you'll notice in the rest of these photos to a greater or lesser extent, is the compulsion to mix ultra-modern (Eames-y stuff) with ultra-quaint (Martha Washington stuff). Are the antiques to cushion the impact of too-much-modernity? I could never understand antiques antiques, as I've always been a kitsch collector myself. When someone drops a three or four figure price on Antiques Roadshow in the consultation part of the program, I always have a little inner gasp of "how do you spend that much money on one object?!". This is probably why I failed the "How Good is Your Taste" feature yesterday! :)
Perfect example of what I'm talking about. While the carpet, couch, and stone wall fireplace scream mid century, the rocking chair and dining room chairs, not to mention the whaling ship and bewigged historical figure on the wall, are strictly Williamsburg. I was reminded, in looking at this photos, of an anecdote in Sylvia Sidney's Needlepoint in which the Spencer Tracy co-star contacts a local historical society to lay hands on a needlepoint pattern that would best suit some chair cushions she was working on to match the East coast eighteenth century farmhouse she was restoring on her days off the Warner Brothers' lot. Me, I would just install myself in an ultra-Dietrich, probably campy as all get out Art Deco apartment in the Hollywood hills, if I were a starlet of the time, but Sylvia Sidney wanted buckles-and-breeches authenticity in her interior design adventures. To each his own, I guess!
You remember from the living room re-design I undertook earlier this year that I got rid of a lot, a lot, A LOT of my personal collection of books-- I look very differently upon these bookcases, as a result of that, than I would have say two years ago. The two years ago me is going "YES! MORE SPACE FOR BOOKS!", while the present me is thinking "Why spend so much of your hard-earned money and space on books when you can get them for free from the library and what's more, they store them for you!" In my late twenties', I find myself buying only books I'm relatively certain a library wouldn't have (weird science textbooks from the sixties', the silent movie star memoir that's out of print, etc, etc) and storing them as sparingly as possible. It's hard, being a bibliophile, not being cocooned in bookshelves bursting at the seams, but I just feel the room looks so much CALMER minus 1,000,000 volumes. Also, may I please have that arm chair and sofa. Thank you
The pops of color in this room are interesting-- while I actually hate that cafe curtain and the weird figurine waiting to fall off that window ledge, the green, red, yellow, and wood tones harmonize so well I can almost forgive that one blind side of taste over there. I've always wanted a desk like that in the lower right hand corner, sans computer or tchotchke, to write one's checks and read over one's bills. I always see Barbara Stanwyck or other strong female characters of forties' movies catching up on their correspondence or responding to dinner invitations at a desk, and by Godfrey, I want one, too! There's a desk in the office of our house, but it's cramped with a computer monitor, scanner, speakers, and other trappings of the information age. Would for some nice stationery and gold fountain pens there instead!
Last but not least, a bizarre little room that looks so Norman-Bates's-mother I was surprised it dated to year of our Lord 1950. The stuffy furniture and floral carpet is to reassure the reader that Alexander Smith carpets caters not only to the young moderns set, but also to their geriatric spinster aunts. Joking aside, I do like how quaint this room looks along the astro-space-age-ness of , say, the first two rooms in this post... it reminds me of the scene in Gone With the Wind where Scarlett's trying on a bonnet blockade running Rhett has brought her from England-- doesn't her Aunt Pitty's house look very similar to this room? But I digress. This room needs an injection of vibrant color but badly. That tiny milk glass pedestal bowl of flowers is not enough!!
So! What do you think about these Alexander Smith interiors? Which room would you like to snatch wholesale for your own home? Any design inspirations lately from the midcentury? Let's talk!
I have to get back to the grind, but I will see you back here tomorrow! Have a great Tuesday. Til then.