Great Brownings Living Room

Updated 16 August 2019

Although I experienced extreme buyer’s remorse as soon as I’d paid for it (compounded by the Vitra sample sale’s “no returns” policy), I’ve come to like and enjoy our new all-black Eames lounge chair.

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When it first arrived, I was initially warped by feelings of guilt coupled with the sense that I’d been a bit ripped off. The all-black version of the chair that I’d hastily grabbed in the sample sale reminded me a bit of Chandler and Joey’s BarcaLoungers in Friends and I regretted not holding out for the more classic model with a palisander or rosewood shell that I’d initially wanted (see below). I have since come to my senses and can appreciate the chair for what it is: a compact and very comfortable design classic in a slightly different colour-way.

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I’ve also filled that awkward space in front the wall between the door and the snug with a 1950s Robin Day-style bench that I bought from an Etsy seller. The bench is as uncomfortable as it looks to sit on and I couldn’t face paying £150 for one of the official Mourne cushions from TwentyTwentyOne so I employed one of my cheapskate hacks and covered some bog standard square cushions from John Lewis with a cheap grey tweed fabric that I found in eBay. Like my Artek-inspired stool seat pads in the kitchen, no one is going to be mistaking them for the real thing but I don’t think they look too bad.

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The real thing: slatted bench by Robin Day with Mourne cushion from twentytwentyone 

Updated 18 April 2019

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We ended up buying that Tomado unit from Designs of Modernity (which is definitely worth a visit if you’re passing through Crystal Palace – it’s in the basement of Crystal Palace Antiques, a warehouse of tat just off the Crystal Palace Triangle).

According to the owner, this unit is the “super rare” teak version with the “super rare” fourth deeper shelf that was originally designed to hold one of those small B&W 60s TVs but is now probably better suited to art books. To be honest, I wasn’t that fussed about whether or not the unit was rare – I just thought it looked quite nice and was the perfect height and width for that corner of the living room. The price wasn’t bad for something supposedly rare either.

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The next purchase I’d like to make for the living room is a new lounge chair – my partner has requested something comfortable that we can put by the window and pivot to face out into the garden when we want to.

The obvious choice would one of those classic Eames rosewood and leather lounge chairs with the matching ottoman (it’s a timeless style and is the perfect size) but I don’t think we can justify paying the quite frankly obscene £7,380 price tag for a new one.

img_4596img_4597I did look into sourcing a vintage/second hand model but these tend to be priced at between £3,000-6,000 depending on condition (this damn chair really holds its value) and this very informative post on Manhattan Nest about the susceptibility of decades-old Eames loungers to snap in half really put me off the idea. The remaining option is a knock-off and while I didn’t want to have to resort to this (my long-term ambition is replace all of the fake items in the house with genuine items over time), I’ve seen some fairly convincing ones priced between £500-1,000, a much more justifiable (though obviously still expensive) price point.

Updated 4 March 2019

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Now that we’ve finished decorating and putting up/arranging our stuff in the living room, I think it’s looking good from certain angles but slightly lacking from others.

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The wall unit, I must say, has never looked better than it does in this house (it was probably a bit too big and overwhelming for the smaller living room in my previous flat) and I’m similarly pleased with how the rest of the “formal lounge” looks, though we could probably do with another lounge chair – something vintage (a Hans Wegner if I can find one at a decent price somewhere?) would be nice.

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Turning round the camera to face the other wall, however, reveals the fact that we don’t have quite enough stuff yet to fill the room.

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It looks a bit empty and the furniture which is there (that three-legged Tablo table and those fake Artek stools, for example) are a little too contemporary and don’t quite work with everything else – I’ve been sniffing around a teak Tomado unit from Designs of Modernity for the wall next to the window to put there instead. It’d be nice to put up the rest of our pictures on the bare walls as well.

I’m not quite done with the tv area either. I’d like to replace the sofa, which looks alright but is a terribly designed, uncomfortable piece of furniture (don’t ever buy a sofa from West Elm) and I can’t help but think that the sideboard and walls could do with a bit more decorative tat on them.

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I plan to update this blog entry once we’ve made a few (hopefully) final improvements to the room.

15 November 2018

The living rooms in the Great Brownings houses are comprised of a rectangle with a sliding patio door and floor-to-ceiling window on one wall and a square tacked onto the side, making a large L-shape.

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Even though the square tacked onto the side increases the size of the room, it makes for a slightly awkward room to furnish and “zone”. We have seen some of our neighbours using the square as a study off the sitting room whilst others have tried to incorporate it into the main living area.

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We have decided to use the square on the side as a tv area, with the tv positioned in a way that means you won’t be able to see it when you enter the room. The main living room will be a seating area (or “formal lounge” to use more poncey terminology). I fully expect that we will spend 90% slumped in front of the tv in the tv area and only 10% sitting and receiving guests in our “formal lounge”.

In terms of inspiration and other rooms to copy, I’ve always liked this living room in a Barbican flat that was on sale via The Modern House a while ago and sought to copy it when furnishing my current place (it does look a bit like a higher end version of my current living room).

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I also look to that flat that I narrowly missed out on buying (and that I’m not at all bitter about) as inspiration as it had a nicely furnished and styled, neutral Scandi-style living room.

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As ever, blog entry to be updated once we’ve made some progress beyond this:

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“Formal lounge”

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1. Black and white rug from Copenhagen recycled from my current flat

2. Fake George Nelson saucer bubble lamp for centre pendant light – I think the 60cm version is the right size for the room

3. Marimekko floor cushion from Marimekko factory store recycled from my current flat

4. Fake Arne Jacobsen floor lamp from my current flat

5. Vintage rosewood Poul Cadovius Royal system recycled from my current flat

6. Heals Eclipse tables – currently on loan from my sister

7. Tom Dixon Jack light – recently bought from the Heals equivalent of Ikea’s bargain corner. It’s comically massive but I’ve wanted one ever since I saw one in that photo from the Barbican flat (see above)

8. Heals Mistral sofa recycled from my current flat

9. Fake Eames organic chair recycled from my current flat

10. Vintage mid century magazine rack

11. Donna Wilson knitted pouffe recycled from my current flat

12. Merbau three-strip engineered flooring (as before)

TV area:

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1. IKEA Mosslanda picture ledge behind sofa

2. Danish rosewood coffee table recycled from my current flat

3. Fake Panthella lamp recycled from my partner’s current flat

4. Habitat Vince walnut sideboard recycled from my partner’s current flat

5. West Elm Peggy two-seat sofa (aka the most complained about sofa of all time due to buttons popping out and sofa cushions sliding off the base) – having lived with this sofa for two years, it isn’t quite as bad as the complaints online would lead you to believe but the quality and durability hasn’t been great for the price.

6. Ferm living rug from the Skandium sale recycled from my partner’s current flat

7. Fake George Nelson saucer bubble lamp for centre pendant light – I think the 45 version is the right size for the tv area

8. Merbau three-strip engineered flooring (as before)

Span Blackheath 20th Century Society Tour

I recently attended another 20th Century Society architectural tour, this time an almost ludicrously comprehensive perambulation of Span developments in Blackheath. The four-and-a-half hour tour took in the full range of Span housing types, of which there was a unexpectedly wide variety.

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The Priory (1956)

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The Priory (1956)

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Spangate (1964)

The Priory (1956), The Hall (1957), Spangate (1964) and Hallgate (1958) were examples of classic Eric Lyons-designed low-rise 1950s and 1960s apartment blocks, containing apartments filled with light (thanks to extensive glazing to the front and rear of each apartment) and looking/opening out onto perfectly maintained landscaped gardens.

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The Hall (1957)

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The Hall (1957)

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The Hall (1957), detail

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Hallgate (1958)

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Hallgate (1958), detail

I’ve previously been to view an apartment in Hallgate and while I admired the setting and the development (particularly the glazed open porches and that unusual sculpture), I wasn’t overly taken with the flat itself due to the slightly tired decor inside. 

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The Priory (1956), interior of first floor apartment

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The Priory (1956), interior of first floor apartment

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The Priory (1956), interior of first floor apartment

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The Priory (1956), interior of first floor apartment

The two sympathetically modernised apartments that we given access to as part of this tour (one in The Priory and the other in The Hall) were far better examples, showcasing the features of these bright spaces to their full potential.

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The Hall (1957), interior of ground floor apartment

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The Hall (1957), interior of ground floor apartment

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The Hall (1957), interior of ground floor apartment

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The Hall (1957), interior of ground floor apartment

We were also shown around some classic 1950s and 1960s Eric Lyons developments made up of two-storey terraced houses, including The Lane (1964),  The Keep (1957), Hall II (1958), Corner Green (1959) and The Plantation (1962). Like the apartments in his apartment blocks, Lyons’ houses were designed to maximise the qualities of light and space and to enhance the relationship between the buildings and the surrounding landscape. Care was taken to design and build houses around existing mature trees, supplemented with new planting and the creation of communal areas that encouraged residents to mix.

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Hall II (1958)

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Hall II (1958)

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Hall II (1958)

Some of the developments stood out as being particularly successful (for me, The Plantation and Corner Green, the latter of which was reportedly Eric Lyons’ favourite), due to their design and colour schemes coupled with the positioning of the houses around a large central open grassy space set back from the road.

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The Plantation (1962)

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The Plantation (1962)

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Corner Green (1959)

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Corner Green (1959)

Other developments, whilst equally well designed, felt slightly compromised by the size, shape and/or condition of the sites upon which they were built (the houses on The Lane, for instance, were built around a snaking tarmac drive whilst the grass and vegetation in The Keep looked like it could do with being watered in places).

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The Lane (1964)

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The Keep (1957)

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The Keep (1957)

There were some interesting outliers along the way. The Foxes Dale Houses (1957) were a trio of larger townhouses, unusually set over three storeys with a striking spiral staircase at their centre.

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Foxes Dale House (1957), exterior and back (photo from House & Garden)

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Foxes Dale House (1957), interior views (photos from House & Garden)

These houses had both paved gardens to the front and rear and a balcony screened by glass and roofed by a pergola on the first floor. House & Garden were enlisted at the time to decorate these houses in seemingly flamboyant mid century style, judging by these images from the publication at the time.  

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Foxes Dale House (1957), interior views (photos from House & Garden)

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Foxes Dale House (1957), interior views (photos from House & Garden)

Designed with a more affluent customer in mind (House & Garden referred to an imaginary retired Royal Navy commander working at Greenwich, aged about 40, married, with a son of ten), the developers apparently had a tough time shifting these houses as they were too expensive for the area at the time, which seemed to put the developers off from building any further premium housing of this type in the area.

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Foxes Dale House (1957), exterior and interior views (photos from House & Garden)

Southrow (1963) also had a slightly different look and feel.

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Southrow (1963)

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Southrow (1963)

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Southrow (1963), view from roof terrace

This development, comprised of 10 two-storey maisonettes and 23 apartments set around a large rectangular quad with one side of the development and the communal roof terrace looking out onto the heath, was also seemingly built with a more affluent customer in mind.

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Southrow (1963), communal areas

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Southrow (1963), roof terrace

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Southrow (1963), communal areas

The houses, one of which we were given access into, originally contained a pointlessly large upstairs landing area, which the owner of this house had sensibly converted into a third bedroom and the flats, one of which we also saw inside, were extremely generously sized and quadruple aspect, with striking views from every window.

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Southrow (1963), interior of Type Q maisonette

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Southrow (1963), interior of Type Q maisonette

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Southrow (1963), interior of second floor apartment

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Southrow (1963), interior of second floor apartment

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Southrow (1963), interior of second floor apartment

The 13 sand coloured terraced houses on Hall IV (1967) were another outlier. These houses had a decidedly brutalist aesthetic not seen in any other of Eric Lyons’ estates in Blackheath.

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Hall IV ((1967)

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Hall IV ((1967)

The tour also took us to some post-Eric Lyons Span oddities from the late 1970s and 1980s, including Streetfield Mews (1984), Corner Keep (1979) and Birchmere (1982).

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Corner Keep (1979)

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Streetfield Mews (1984)

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Birchmere (1982)

While the use of materials and certain design choices (a weird faux Medieval typeface on the signs, red-brown Brookside-style brick, circular windows) on these estates were typical of the era, other features (seclusion from the road, immaculate landscaping and extensive glazing) were classic Span.

Note: I am certainly no Span expert so may have mis-identified any number of estates pictured above – let me know if you spot any and I will amend accordingly! 

Great Brownings guest bedroom/study

Updated 4 August 2019

The final room in our house to receive a before/after update, the guest room/study has received a thoroughly neutral makeover.

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I was under express instructions from my partner (who uses this room as his study) not to fill it with “tat” but I have semi-succeeded in sneaking in a few bits and pieces to add a bit of visual interest.

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The white bed frame from Argos fits the space under the window perfectly but the quality is terrible and came in about 500 sharp-edged pieces that needed to be painstakingly assembled over the space of about 4 hours. We wouldn’t recommend buying it.

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On the other hand, whilst it did take an unreasonable amount of time to arrive, the similarly budget-friendly desk from Made.com looks alright and seems to be of reasonable enough quality.

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30 December 2018

The fourth bedroom was decorated so distinctively by the previous owner that the estate agent declined to include a photo of it in the listing (we referred to it until recently as “The Red Room”).

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Now that we’ve stripped off several layers of wallpaper and removed the built-in furniture, it’s currently looking a bit less oppressive.

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We decided that this one would make a good additional guest bedroom (it’s just wide enough to fit in a single bed under the window) and study.

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1. Josiah pendant from SCP sample sale – one of those items that I bought ages ago which I’m determined to use somewhere/anywhere in the house

2. Lloyd cabin single bed frame from Argos – this fit the bill for a number of reasons (no bulkiness at either end, drawers underneath, inoffensive looking, cheap)

3. Yet more String shelving recycled from my current flat

4. Northern Sunday bedside light recycled from my current flat

5. Depot desk from Made – I chose this one because it was under £200 and looked a bit like that Pierre Guarriche desk that I saw in Brussels a couple of weeks ago

6. Fake Eames DSW chair recycled from my current flat

 

Vitra sample sale 2019

Updated 19 July 2019

Not nearly as fraught as the mess described in that article in The Guardian but a lot more expensive, last Saturday’s Vitra sample sale was a mostly civilised experience.

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Having arrived at the Oxo Tower at 5.30am (!), I found myself fifth in the queue (the person at the front had been waiting since 4am), which steadily grew around the block as 9am approached. There was a bit of a scuffle behind me when someone thought it was acceptable behaviour to wander away from said queue for about an hour and a half and then reclaim his spot fifteen minutes before the sale opened but the wait was mostly tolerable thanks to my camp chair and reading materials.

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Shortly before it opened, we were provided with a rough plan of the venue’s layout (accessories on the ground floor, living/office on the first and dining on the second), which allowed for an element of strategy.

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When the doors finally opened, I immediately dashed up to the first floor to locate the lounge chair and desk that I’d planned to buy. There was no sign of the desk but there was, happily, a row of lounge chairs from which I could take my pick due to the fact that I was near the front of the queue. I briefly considered a version in green leather with a handsome palisander shell but it was in the new, larger dimensions, which I’m not a huge fan of (I think it makes the chair look cumbersome and a bit like one of those weirdly proportioned replicas) so I went for a sleek, all-black model (leather and wood panels) in the original, smaller dimensions.

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Green leather in new, larger dimensions vs black leather in original, smaller dimensions

The competitive atmosphere, encouraged by the sales staff (if I didn’t buy it, someone else would!) coupled with my moderate sleep deprivation meant that I didn’t pay much attention to the price on the sticker (it was discounted so that’d do!) and just headed for the tills. Only when I got home did I realise that I could have ordered the same chair in the Heal’s sale from the comfort of my own home for not a huge amount more. At the time of writing, I’m still waiting for my lounge chair to be delivered so I’m hoping that the slight feeling of buyer’s remorse will dissipate as soon as it arrives.

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Looking around at the rest of the stock after I’d bought the lounge chair, it was all still pretty expensive. Desk chairs were about £300-500, dining chairs £150-300 and a lot of stuff (including that ESU bookcase unit and, to my shame, the lounge chair) still in the thousands. The only items going for under £100 were the accessories and those were snapped up pretty quickly.

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My  main tips for anyone attending any future Vitra sample sales are to arrive early (but 5.30am is probably unnecessary unless you’re looking to buy a not particularly discounted lounge chair) and take the sticker off any item that you’re interested in buying but carefully consider whether you could get the item more cheaply elsewhere with a proper warranty before paying – you can always put the sticker back (as I probably should have done).

10 July 2019

I’ve never attended a proper Vitra sample sale with everything at 60% off or more* but this Guardian coverage of a similar event in 2005 makes it sound like an absolute mess of an experience.

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I’m really hoping that it won’t be quite as fraught or competitive this time as I frankly don’t have the time or the energy to compete with people with the commitment to camp outside the venue days in advance. I think one of the reasons for the ridiculousness last time was the way in which the organisers advertised a couple of “special buy” deals designed to whip up hysteria (e.g. an Eames lounger for £50) weeks in advance. Fortunately, they haven’t done that this time so it’ll hopefully be a bit more civilised.

 

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All the same, I’m planning to get there early armed with a camp chair and a book. My probably unrealistic wish list consists of: an Eames lounger (which I’ve had my eye on for a while), an EDU desk (to replace the very 00s frosted glass one in my study) and some kind of pendant light – I will update this entry to let you know how I get on…

For those who want to take part in the bun fight, it’s scheduled to take place at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH on 13th July 2019 and runs from 9am to 5pm.

*That lame, expensive one in 2015 which just consisted of about 100 green Vegetal chairs doesn’t count.

Goodbye to Skandium (for now)

I don’t know what on earth happened from a business perspective to reduce Skandium, once one of the best known retailers of Scandinavian design and furniture with four outlets across London (two big, beautiful stores on Marylebone High Street and in South Kensington and concessions in Selfridges and the Fritz Hansen shop in Fitzrovia), to a messy pile of stuff at their closing down sale last weekend.

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While I was pleased to hoover up some bargains at the sale (it was odd to see certain design classics I thought I’d never see in the bargain bin at 40% off though sadly, the giant Kay Bojesen monkey was not for sale), I was really quite sad to see one of my favourite stores close and for all the stylish, knowledgable staff to lose their jobs.

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In slightly more positive news, it appears that Skandium will be back at some point: the administrators have found a buyer that intends to focus on rebuilding the brand as an online business with a view to eventually reopening the stores. In the meantime, I’ll have to source my design tat elsewhere.

House in Great Brownings for rent

A very familiar looking house recently popped up on the rental section of the Modernist Estates website.

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Though identical to our house in terms of layout and facade (grey slate and all), this house appears to have almost all of its original features intact, giving it a slightly more vintage feel than ours.

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It’s not a total time capsule though – while the owners have preserved things like the original patio doors (much nicer than our uPVC screens), wooden interior doors, entry porch, bathroom suite and possibly the original kitchen cabinets(?), they’ve gotten rid of the less desirable original features like the dividing wall with serving hatch between kitchen and dining room and the hot (and dry) air heating system.

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The owners have decorated in an authentically mid century style (I’ve always liked that retro shade of green they’ve chosen for the carpet in the living room) but have used just enough modern stuff to avoid the retro pastiche look. Unlike us, they appear to have kept on top of the garden, which is a lot neater and more luscious than ours.

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The professionally taken photos make the photos that I’ve taken of our house look decidedly amateurish in comparison. I think it’s probably time for me to get a new camera.

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The house is available to rent for £2,500 per month via Modernist Estates. Given that we live in a pretty similar house on the same estate, I can predict with confidence that whoever ends up renting this house will be very happy there.

Great Brownings garden

Updated 23 June 2019

Given that we have no appetite for a full-on landscaping project this year (we did call in a gardener to remove weeds and anything that was clearly dead/rotting but that was the extent of it), we decided instead to make a few additions to make the garden a little more inviting for when we have guests over this summer.

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Inspired by this photo of the rooftop garden in the Berkeley Hotel in London that I saw in a magazine, we decided to get a pair of budget-friendly Applaro loungers and the matching side table from Ikea and cover them with sunshine yellow pads and cushions from online store Maison du Monde. We also bought a simple Dancook barbecue and hung up some solar-powered lanterns and some Ikea outdoor lighting.

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This limited window dressing does not conceal the fact that the garden is still a bit of a ramshackle mess (I still want to re-landscape at some point, adding bit of grass and more planters/beds containing a variety of different plants and shrubs) but it’s going to have to do for now.

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22 April 2019 

Given that both my partner and I have lived in flats for all of our adult lives, neither of us have any experience of looking after a garden.

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This meant that we were at a bit of a loss when it came to dealing with the quite mature front and back garden that came with our new house – we had no idea what to do with it or when so we just left it to its own devices (save for removing a rusty old washing line and getting the builders to straighten out the wonky wooden fence in the front garden) while we concentrated on doing up the house itself.

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Six months and two season changes later, it feels like we should do something about it. All the dead leaves and mulch that accumulated in autumn and winter have formed a crispy brown dirt bed everywhere, interrupted by spiky-looking weeds which have started springing up at an alarming rate in the last few weeks.

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The trees, plants and shrubs that aren’t weeds (which it was quite nice to witness sprouting out of the ground in unexpected places at the start of spring, especially the little tree in the front garden which unexpectedly turned out to be a cherry blossom which flowers in mid-March) could also do with some attention before they get even more overgrown and out of control than they already are.

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We’ve called in a gardener to carry out this haircut in the next few weeks so I’ll update this entry if there is any discernible difference worth reporting on. In the longer term, it’d be nice to carry out some slightly more adventurous landscaping. The wonky paving stones leading up to and in front of the house could definitely do with being re-laid and while the ground is too uneven for a lawn in the back garden (and I don’t think I could face maintaining that every week), I like the idea of cultivating a few planters or beds like some of our more green-fingered neighbours.

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Concrete Futures architecture walking tour

I joined this RIBA walking tour last year which took me around the areas surrounding (but unfortunately not into) Balfron Tower and Robin Hood Gardens.

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Robin Hood Gardens, photo courtesy of Neil Clasper Photography

The two social housing projects had been selected for the tour due to their contrasting fates: whilst Balfron Tower was undergoing a glamorous refurbishment at the time, Robin Hood Gardens was facing imminent demolition.

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Balfron Tower, photo courtesy of Dezeen

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Carradale House, photo courtesy of Architects Journal

Balfron Tower was designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1963 for the London County Council. Stylistically similar to the later Trellick Tower, Balfron Tower was Grade II* listed in 1996. The refurbishment works, undertaken as a joint partnership with luxury residential developer Londonewcastle, have been going on since 2011. All properties in the tower will be sold off once the refurbishment is done with none of them going back to the social housing tenants who lived there before.

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Due to the refurbishment works, the tower had been wrapped in a rather Javacheff Christo-style chrysalis on the day of the tour so it wasn’t much to look at. We had to make do with Carradale House instead, an adjacent, lower rise 11-storey building designed by Goldfinger to complement the 26-storey tower. Carradale House building had a similar look and feel to Balfron Tower with the same sky bridges and access at every third floor.

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While the tour didn’t extend to going inside either building, I understand that all flats in Carradale House have dual window aspect and large south facing balconies, letting in plenty of natural light, with natural wood panels on each side.

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The above pictures of Goldfinger’s former flat in Balfron Tower, which designer Wayne Hemingway restored in 2014 as part of a National Trust exhibition on brutalism (I recall trying and failing to get tickets for this) give you an idea of what the flats in Balfron Tower and Carrdale House were/are like.

The next stop on the tour was Robin Hood Gardens, or rather the remaining sections of the estate that hadn’t yet been demolished.

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Robin Hood Gardens was designed in the late 1960s by architects Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1972. It was built as a council housing estate consisting of two long curved blocks made of precast concrete slab blocks facing each other across a central green space.

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The blocks contained 213 homes connected by broad aerial walkways on every third floor (so-called “streets in the sky”) which the architects hoped would encourage interaction between residents. In addition, alcoves called “pause spaces” were provided next to the entrance doorways on the “streets” which the architects hoped the residents would personalise and where children would play. The flats themselves were a mixture of single-storey apartments and two-storey maisonettes, with two to six bedrooms.

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Interior of a flat in Robin Hood Gardens (Sandra Lousada, 1972 © The Smithson Family Collection) courtesy of Municipal Dreams

Unfortunately, it transpired over the years that the design of the estate was inherently flawed. The exposed concrete slab blocks weathered poorly and the location meant that the estate was cut off from its surroundings by roads, exacerbated by its inward-facing design. The “streets in the sky” and the pause places outside the doorways were not used by the residents for their intended purpose and only served to create numerous blind spots for muggers.

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Streets in the sky, Robin Hood Gardens

Visiting the remaining parts of the estate in person, it was still a very striking piece of architecture and I could see why so many renowned architects and heritage bodies campaigned against its demolition. However, it was also undeniably bleak. I was unsurprised to hear that the majority of the former residents – the people who actually had to live on the estate – supported its demolition.

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In a slightly bizarre twist, the V&A Museum salvaged a large three-storey section of the estate, including the gutted interiors of a maisonette flat, sections of concrete stairway and part of an elevated walkway, on the grounds that the estate was a nationally important and internationally recognised work of Brutalist architecture. This was recently reconstructed for display in Venice.

Section of Robin Hood Gardens on display in Venice

Great Brownings – an apology

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Apologies to any subscribers of this blog who received an email containing a very long and even more incoherent than usual post about Great Brownings – I accidentally published and circulated a draft post which I’d been using as a virtual dumping ground for all images and text that I was planning to use for individual posts.

For anyone who is actually interested, here is a link to all of the relevant posts about Great Brownings in a much more coherent format:

https://modernistpilgrimage.com/category/great-brownings/

Thanks for subscribing and apologies once again for the spam!

Picture courtesy of Great Brownings’ resident association website

Great Brownings Master Bedroom

Updated 2 June 2019

I’ve somehow resisted the temptation to fill the master bedroom with clutter, just adding this Flensted mobile (“Turning Leaves”) to the corner of the room as a finishing touch.

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I also picked up this rather natty duvet set for £20 from the new Överallt range at Ikea, a series of items covered in a colourful abstract print of people and animals.

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The en-suite bathroom remains a crusty pink mess.

Updated 18 February 2019

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One of the more difficult rooms to redecorate (thanks to the wall-to-wall built-in wardrobes which needed a lot of attention inside and out) and furnish (due to the fact that there’s only one wall to put furniture against), I’m quite pleased with how the master bedroom has turned out – it’s basically a blend of the three bedrooms pictured below that I stole inspiration from.

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The best thing about this room is its outlook onto Great Brownings though I think most of this view will be obscured when the trees start to sprout leaves again.

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The door to the en-suite bathroom is closed in these photos because it remains a hot mess.

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Although it looks alright, the room doesn’t feel quite finished yet. I’d like to hang more artwork – (potentially something above the Boby trolley on the left of the bed?) and source some kind of rug to go in front of the bed (a bit like this).  Further update to come when I’ve filled the room with a bit more clutter.

12 November 2018

The master bedroom is at the front of the house with a wall of built-in wardrobes, dusty rose wallpaper and an equally pink en-suite bathroom, which will warrant its own blog entry when we turn our attention to it.

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Rather than come up with any original design ideas of our own, we will be aping other rooms we’ve seen in other houses or online again.

The first bedroom that sprang to mind as something we could copy was from a flat in Grenville Court that I narrowly missed out on buying a couple of years ago: it had white walls, textured grey carpet and was simply furnished in a similar style to my existing flat. It wasn’t earth-shatteringly unique but it was calming and achievable with the resources we have available.

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Another potential source of inspiration was the bedroom in one of those Norman Starrett houses featured in Mid Century Magazine. This bedroom was a bit more high-end, furnished entirely with mid century rosewood pieces with a fine, short tufted, almost velvet-like grey carpet. I managed to find a synthetic carpet with a similar look and feel (something called Smart Vienna) but I wasn’t sure how it would look with our non-antique, slightly more modern furniture.

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The final bedroom I thought we should copy was from a recently restored flat on the Parkleys estate in Ham. A more playful take on mid-century modern, I liked the use of colour against the grey rubber floor. I also loved the bed so much that I immediately did an online trawl of furniture shops and happily found it on Habitat for about £300 in the sale.

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Entry to be updated once master bedroom starts taking shape.

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1. Stag mid century chest of drawers recycled from my current flat

2. Fake Tablo three-legged table recycled from my current flat

3. Slightly broken Habitat Flap clock recycled from my current flat

4. Yellow Boby Trolley recycled from my current flat

5. Lucia bedframe from Habitat

6. Textured Kersaint Cobb carpet in Morning Frost – we’re carpeting the whole of the upper floor in this as I couldn’t risk the velvety Smart Vienna looking weird

7. Marimekko bedding recycled from my current flat

8. Fake George Nelson bubble lamp recycled from my current flat

9. Poster Ladder by Marie-Aurore Stiker-Metral recycled from my current flat