Contemporary romantic vintage design may sound like an oxymoron and the way it is constructed may be open to a variety of interpretations, but this wide term has its genesis in a simple look.
The move to romantic vintage is said to spring from a desire to create secure, homely surroundings as an antidote to current economic uncertainties and to the consumerism of the past decade.
US designer Rachel Ashwell, founder of the Shabby Chic brand, defines the look as incorporating character pieces that have picked up a rich patina of human history. Paint expert Annie Sloan sees romantic vintage as softly relaxed with texture and character. And Christina Strutt, of Cabbages and Roses, suggests it comprises old, antique or revamped pieces. All are agreed that romantic vintage suits most styles, sizes and periods of home.
The essence of romantic vintage is its sense of enduring values of homemaking and of tradition. There is a faded charm about even new pieces and older chipped, scratched or dented furnishings are treasured for their honesty.
Although colours come from across the palette, their texture is gentle; traditional paints from companies like Farrow and Ball and Fired Earth are perfectly suited. Wallpapers and fabrics have a muted quality whether they sport country flowers or Fifties polka dots and furniture is softly rounded in understated proportions.
Accessories define the style. Think ornate mirrors, pretty photo frames, elaborate candlesticks and piles of soft cushions and throws. Add vintage glassware, old china, traditional lamps and informal flowers for finishing touches.
Pat Elliott, The Borders Design House. Visit our website for design services, courses and workshops. Start a new career as a Homestyle Advisor or learn to ‘Be Your Own Designer’ with our distance-learning interior design course (07765 057 409, www.thebordersdesignhouse.co.uk)
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