Thursday, July 3, 2014

Vintage Natural Prints for Your Vintage Natural Home (House and Garden,1951)

Good morning!

Well, we've almost made it to a particularly nice holiday-- fourth of July, bayBEE! Are you ready to get down? Matthew and I joined the downtown Y this past week and I'm thinking of taking advantage of their rooftop pool area tomorrow, asserting my independence by sunning these poor, glow-in-the-dark gams and chillaxing in the most literal, 21st century God love it sense of the word. How about you? Got big plans?

As for today's blog entry, I've moved on four years forward in my daily perusal of mid century bound periodicals down here at the Nashville Public Library...progress! The 1951 House and Garden is just as fabulous as the 1947 issues I've already's interesting to see how much more spare and less figural the mid-century movement went as it began to pick up speed in the early fifties'. I love them both! However, the march of progress stopped for a moment in this, the (I think?) February issue of 1951 to show us these AMAZING nature-inspired textiles. 

Nothing new under the sun, right? Doesn't it look like something you would see in an Urban Outfitters apartment spread, or at least Pier One? The article, entitled "Outdoors by the Yard", asks me in the very opening line, "Why not liven your rooms with new fabrics that were inspired by the fascinating colors, textures and patterns of American flora and fauna?" I say, "Why DON'T I liven my rooms with new fabrics inspired by the fascinating colors, textures and patterns of American flora and fauna?" I believe this to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, House and Garden. 

Here's the original text of the intro (apologies for the warped dimension, these bound periodicals are bound tightly which leads to minimal "bend" or give to the actual spine):

The Cheney Brothers, a silk manufacturing firm that opened up shop in Connecticut in the 1830's (yes, EIGHTEEN thirties', right?), distributed these hand-printed textiles in 1951, and while House and Garden shows us five of the delightful outdoors-indoors designs, the original collection apparently boasted twenty two (to which I say, hey! Where's the rest of my designs?!). The caption across from the mushroom print reads:

Six dollars a yard in 1951 adds up to $53/yd in 2014 money, so these are no cheap chintzes...but how cute! Below, a designer incorporates the fabric as long drapes in this cozy, early-American-meets-modern looking room .

Doesn't this next pattern, called "Roots", look like something out of the Rankin-Bass Hobbit movie? It is SO late 1970's to me, and yet, here we are, 1951, with the inspiration cozied up next to the print it inspired.

I like the idea of treating these neutral-color prints as you would a beige (because no one hates beige or greige with quite the passion that I hate beige and griege-- get some creativity going, contemporary designers!). The room they incorporated the roots print into is so dramatic without looking "off". How about that huge colonial bench/chair hyprid and long, low daybed? YES. And? PLEASE.

Lichen was probably my favorite word I learned in some long ago elementary school wildlife class-- I would liken (ahahaha) lichen to the word "khaki"-- each pronounced sounds so much more appealing than it does in written form. The botanist level detail in this print is what makes it so neat-- from a distance, you would think this was a regular mid century abstract print of brown, taupe, and white smudges, but up close, the fungus/algae makes itself known!

Notice in the room illustration they've done what they mentioned in the caption-- the wall of windows to the right end at that corner, but the designer has continued on with the drapes into the wall to create this moody fabric installation that makes the room look proportionate

I might actually have a maxi-dress from the early 70's in this same color scheme-- can you believe how later-in-the-century these dandelions look?

This room, for its duo-chromatic scheme, looks the most  dated to me-- I would rather have the exact everything and white wall to keep it from looking too 1968. But think about that-- in 1951, this room looks particularly like what you would see in a style book in 1968. Forward thinking, if nothing else! Also, that couch though.

Last but not least, we've already aired the confession that I didn't know what a sandpiper was, exactly, until my mother-in-law pointed them out in a seventies' textile art hanging I have in my den, here at She Was a Bird. I have a lot to learn and have not yet finished learning about birds, apparently-- I thought for sure these were sandpipers, but they're referred to in the caption as "Sanderlings". Wha? From Wikipedia:
The sanderling (Calidris alba) is a small wading bird. It is a circumpolar Arctic breeder, and is a long-distance migrant, wintering south to South America, South Europe, Africa, and Australia. It is highly gregarious in winter, sometimes forming large flocks on coastal mudflats or sandy beaches. 
It is somewhat unlike other sandpipers in appearance.

Well! There you go. I wish they'd put this in color instead of the dandelion pattern, as this is the one I like the best and which has the poorest representation in the spread:

And, hands down award for my favorite room, this one. Anchored by the MCM light fixture, and featuring mid-window to floor cafe curtains for when you need light, and the sanderling textile in long panel drapes for when you don't, I am loving the Picasso-esque wall hanging and the skinny, architectural looking chairs and table. One of each! Thanks!

Ugh, anyway, I now want to go out and buy a ton of patterned curtains (I can't! My furniture's not neutral enough! Choose one or the other, Lisa!). What about you? Do you love these nature inspired prints? What do you think about their avant the garde style? Which decorated room is your favorite? Let's gab about 1951's sense of interior design!!

That's all for today, but I'm back for a special holiday Photo Friday. Have a great Thursday, we're almost to the weekend! Talk to you tomorrow.

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