As an interior designer and stylist it’s impossible not to be inspired by the Bloomsbury group and Charleston House the country retreat of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Over the course of half a century the house became the location where they gathered with many of their friends, artists, writers, including Vanessa’s sister, Virginia Woolf and intellectuals of the day.
I was lucky enough to finally visit Charleston a couple of years ago and it was, and still is, the most incredibly exciting and creative home I’ve ever been into. Everything about it shouldn’t work, but it does, beautifully. Practically every surface is painted with colour and pattern. There is pattern layered upon pattern. Painted plates and portraits hang on every surface and furniture is covered with more patterned fabric and cushions, designed by both Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.
Ever since I visited Charleston, I’ve been inspired to bring elements of it into my own home and I’ve become more aware of designers that have also been influenced by their style and have built their own signature around this use of pattern and colour and eclectic way of decorating.
Hall is himself, like some modern day Duncan Grant, creating his own ceramics, fabrics, furniture and accessories for within his interiors.
Both these designers use elements from the era within their own designs, such as prints by Jean Cocteau and Matisse and salon walls of portraits and still life paintings on brightly coloured or patterned surface backgrounds, with a mixture of country house style furniture, tribal art and rugs and of course Staffordshire china which is all reminiscent of this eclectic style that has become synonymous with the Bloomsbury Group.
Another interior designer whose work I love and who also brings elements of playful painted furniture and colour into her work is Beata Heuman. Some of her work can be seen below and the bedroom design reflects the influence of the Bloomsbury artists with echos of Charleston house within the painted cupboard doors.
If this fun use of colour and pattern is something that you’d like to explore more in your own home, and I know I am itching to recreate something like this in our home, then look no further than Annie Sloan paint. The great dame of painted furniture has recently collaborated with Charleston House to produce three new colours of paint which have been sourced from similar colours used within the house. Firle a vibrant green, Tilton a warm ochre and Rodmell a soft aubergine are all now available from her website.
To fully create the Bloomsbury style in your own home though, the one key to it all is art and lots of it. Portraits, still life paintings, landscapes, plaster reliefs and painted ceramics. The more the better. If you want to find out a little more about where to buy good examples of art, you can read my recent blog post that I wrote about the subject here. There’s also a mood board I’ve collated below which pulls some of the other elements together to create the Charleston House look, which includes some textiles that have been reissued by Charleston house, copied from the original designs within the house and of course, a painted ceramic jug for those cut garden flowers which were always on display, brought in from the beautiful gardens at Charleston and the influence for so many of those still life paintings created by the owners and visitors to this wonderful house.
- Cuisse De Nymph Emu paint Edward Bulmer
- Selection of wallpapers Ottoline De vries
- Decorated wall plate Luke Edward Hall – Artemest
- Original Jean Cocteau Poster – A Hare In The Forest
- Annie Sloan Paint range for Charleston House
- Lamp shade – Pooky
- West Wind fabric by Duncan bell – Charleston House Shop
- kilim Rug –Rugs Of London
- Hand painted picture mounts – Lydia Beanland Studio
- Olives & leaves Jug – House of Bruar