Charleston House

June 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have been dying to visit Charleston House for years and finally got there recently. On a windy Sunday, we approached the house via a long and bumpy lane. Charleston House is the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It became a country retreat for the Bloomsbury group of artists, writers and intellectuals. The house is lavishly decorated by these artists and their friends.

The garden room

Walking through each room, I was imagining how to transform my little cottage in the style of Charleston. They painted on almost every surface, the walls, the tables, chairs, fire surrounds etc. The colour schemes were bold, yet never garrish. The style is very freehand and the results are very pleasing to the eye. I have totally fallen in love with the place. My current bedside reading is the book of Charleston by Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson – descendants of the Vanessa Bell. I am very intrigued by their lifestyle and hooked on Quentin’s recollections of his childhood. The economist Maynard Keynes visited, as well as T.S. Eliot, not to mention Quentin’s aunt/Vanessa’s sister Virginia Woolf, amongst many other great figures of their time – how amazing to be surrounded by so much creativity!

Luckily for me Charleston Shop are selling fabrics designed by Duncan Grant in 1931 – West Wind, Grapes and Queen Mary (designed in 1937 for the first class lounge of the Queen Mary). I cannot decide which of these fabrics I want. Who am I kidding? All of them, of course!

Grapes fabric designed by Duncan Grant 1931

Grapes fabric designed by Duncan Grant 1931

Westwind fabric designed by Duncan Grant 1931 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Queen Mary designed by Duncan Grant 1937

The Queen Mary designed by Duncan Grant 1937

I do have a weakness for collecting fabric and not doing much with it for a while! My friend Wayua and I went to the V&A Quilts exhibition last year, where I bought (many) limited addition fabrics, with the purpose of making a quilt. As yet no quilt has been produced, but any moment now, I will do it… honest!

I am currently working on a design to transform my fireplace, which at the moment is painted white. I have never been a huge fan of the Swedish minimalist look. It looks great in other people’s houses, however, I collect far too much on my travels to ever be accused of being a minimalist! There is always a bowl or plate, painting, fabric etc. etc. that I find too hard to resist. I have many weakness in the purchasing department, books being one of the many on the list. I do recommend reading the book of Charleston House and then visiting it. I am hoping to visit Charleston again this summer and feasting my eyes upon this artistic house and garden for another time.

Charleston House

Charleston House - Outside of Garden Room

Charleston House from walled garden, with the Studios to the right


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