Vintage revisited: the future is bright

In this blog series I am tracking the beautiful vintage pieces that were once bought from Nina’s Apartment, looking them up them in their new homes. Most of these pieces were rescued from house clearances or bought from older people downsizing and no longer having space for their beloved (now vintage) furniture. Whatever their story, they carry a lot of history and I am sure if the original owners saw their furniture getting a new lease of life, it would put a smile on their face. So who bought them, why and where are these pieces now? This time I am looking up a sleek teak sideboard, bought from a house clearance – then dusted off, polished up and giving some TLC – and now taking pride of place in a gorgeous converted steading near Alford, Aberdeenshire.

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New owners Erika and Derek came into Nina’s Apartment two years ago, looking for something that was stylish, of a mid-century modern design and with plenty of storage space. It also needed to be low enough to fit under the sky light windows. The use of the sideboard didn’t change that much compared to what it was originally used for: it’s main function is now as the family’s drinks cabinet. They did update the original door knobs and replaced them with dark grey marbled ones to add a bit of contrast.

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Erika, who produces artwork at a design company and her husband Derek, who works in the oil industry, converted the old steading ten years ago and live there with their two teenage daughters. They chose to have the living space upstairs and the bedrooms downstairs. This provided them with amazing views over the Aberdeenshire countryside and also makes the large open plan top floor very bright and sunny. Although according to Erika “the whole space gets pretty dark in winter on days when there is heavy snow and all windows are covered”!

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The sideboard Erika and Derek bought is a 1960s design by A Younger Ltd. This English company was a high quality furniture manufacturer that led style and contemporary taste in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Younger furniture was low volume, well made and aimed at the top end of the market and amongst the first firms to make Scandinavian style furniture in the fifties. It was also one of the first manufacturers to abandon the style in search of something more original in the late sixties (more info on Retrowow).

The design of the sideboard goes very well with the rest of the house, which is decorated in a modern, kind of Scandinavian style and fairly monochrome colour scheme. It’s nice to see how the owners have creatively combined vintage, high end design and high street furniture. The black and white rug was bought from La Redoute, the large grey corner sofa sofa is by SITS. I love the Ikea kitchen cabinets that, placed upside down and beside each other, were transformed into a full length TV and media unit. Talk about thinking outside the box!

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The green kitchen table is a vintage piece found locally, as well as the old chest underneath it. The wall paper on the central staircase adds a nice bit of pattern to the bright room and is from Scion.

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Knowing the often unloved state vintage pieces were in when I first got them in the shop, I just love seeing them come to life again in their new environment. I know it sounds like I am talking about the adoption process of an abandoned kitten, but I think this was one lucky sideboard to find such a fitting, stylish and sunny home. And I can’t help but feeling slightly envious.

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Mid century modern furniture in a victorian house – how to get it right

mid century dining set in swedish cottage
image: The Vintage Cabin


I often get people telling me:”I love mid century furniture but it doesn’t suit our older style house. I disagree with that. I believe that the clean, simple design of mid century furniture suits most properties, whatever the age of the house and no matter whether you live in the city or countryside.
If you happen to live in an old house with lots of character, a minimalist, understated piece of furniture would create a nice contrast and compliment the features of the house rather than compete with it. Likewise, a Victorian property with high ceilings and large bay windows forms a perfect back drop to show off the clean lines of a mid century modern armchair, sofa or sideboard. So if you recognise yourself in that quote above, please don’t feel you have compromise on style, just because you think a country cottage doesn’t go with a sleek teak sideboard. Think outside the box! Be brave and mix it up, you might surprise yourself.

mid century modern furniture in victorian house

This beautiful Victorian apartment in Manchester features many mid century modern pieces, which look fabulous combined with the high ceilings and architectural features. A nice combination form the minimalist teak wall unit, the heritage colour green, herringbone floor and the oversized drapes. Very stylish. Image via Seeds and Stitches

mid century armchair and bookcase in georgian house

This bright Georgian house in Islington, London with its old shutters, decorative ceiling and original fireplace, gives a nice contrast with the 1950s design of the armchair and bookcase. Great little pop colour of the standard lamp too. Image via Design Milk

orange retro lamp above a mid century dining table in cottage
I love this little dining room with the old floor boards, bright orange retro pendant light and mid century dining set. This would look great in any country cottage. Image via Desire to Inspire

Small danish teak mid century sideboard in swedish house
If you live in a small cottage, apartment or your living room just isn’t very big, try finding a smaller mid century sideboard. Keep the room light and bright and combine it with  some vintage finds and a statement armchair for an eclectic, scandi look. Image via Desire to Inspire

For more ideas on how to create a beautiful interior using mid century modern furniture, have a look on Nina’s Apartment’s Pinterest Board.

How to create a cool interior with mid-century furniture

“Oh my goodness, my mum had one just like that!”….
“It’s like walking into my auntie’s house”….
“I know folk who burnt a whole lot of these on the bonfire, that’s what they used to do”

Yep, that’s what I hear in my shop almost on a weekly basis! I sell old furniture that for some people is too much ‘like their childhood’, or is ‘too recent’ for others. But I love it. And this is why.

The wonderful Mies van der Rohe pavillion in Barcelona
http://www.themodernist.co.uk/2011/12/ludwieg-mies-van-der-rohe/
 —
Danish architect and designer Arne Jacobsen,
who made the famous ‘Ant’ chair

In Groningen, The Netherlands, where I am originally from, I studied Architecture History with the emphasis on the 20th century. Modernism was a big part of the course and that is most definitely where I got my passion for form and design. A lot of architects, such as Juhl, Eames, Mies van der Rohe, Jacobsen and Le Corbusier are not only responsible for revolutionary buildings, but created some of the most iconic pieces of furniture too. If you have ever visited Barcelona you might have come across the gorgeous pavillion by modernist Mies van der Rohe (pictured above). Would you believe this was built in 1929?

The Eames DSW chair

A lot of great chairs have been produced by these guys too. Who doesn’t know the famous ‘Eames chair’ from the 1950s, that is still being produced and more popular than ever? Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona chair’ is still in such high demand that there are now numerous companies around selling reproductions.

It is the attention to detail, the love for material and the belief that ‘form follows function’ rather than to adorn a piece of furniture – or building – with unnecessary decoration, that make these ‘vintage’ designs into timeless classics. Buildings are ‘light and open’ instead of dark and heavy and so are the chairs, tables and sideboards.

Danish architect Finn Juhl’s house in Copenhagen. http://www.finnjuhl.com/inspiration/inspiration-finn-juhls-house-copenhagen-2/
A Danish style sideboard combined with a Mies van der Rohe ‘Barcelona’ day bed and some bold artwork. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416041155470/

 

A 1960s tallboy that may have ended up on the bonfire if I hadn’t
rescued it, polished it up and painted the outside grey to cover
the stained top.

The key to a great looking interior with these vintage pieces though is to create a cool mix. Don’t buy a complete matching set of 1960s teak furniture or you will recreate your auntie’s house (especially if you get that orange Hornsea coffee pot out as well). Buy a good solid mid-century sideboard, hang a large bold painting or photograph above it, invest in a great new sofa from a designer shop (or get a budget one from Ikea 😉 and add old and new accessories you find on your travels to make the room truly your own. And keep it light and airy.

When you visit my little shop you will often find teak sideboards and chests of drawers, 1960s dining room sets and Scandinavian looking armchairs of at least 40 years old. Some pieces I paint when I think they look better in a different colour or are too damaged to sell as they are. Some chairs I recover to give them an updated look. But all items are chosen because I really liked them.

The word ‘vintage’ is terribly trendy at the moment and the word ‘retro’ always reminds me of brown and orange psychedelic wallpaper (and that matching Hornsea coffee set). When I select furniture for the shop I go for pieces that have a beautiful shape, are well made and would look just as good in a modern home as they did 50 or so years ago. While I can’t promise you that all pieces found at Nina’s Apartment are designed by famous architects and designers (but I do my best to hunt them down!), I do promise that they will be great examples of beautiful & classic design.

Is this 1960s dining set still reminding you of your auntie’s house?
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042566364/

 

A great looking dining room with some prime examples of mid-century modern design
http://www.pinterest.com/pin/259027416042407314/

Update your rooms with mid-century and retro furniture

I love mid-century (50s/60s) furniture, particularly the clean lines of sleek sideboards and elegantly designed chairs and tables. The Scandinavians were – and are – very good at this style, and back in the days various British manufacturers started producing furniture in this more ‘airy’ style to be part of the trend that became very fashionable after heavy wooden, carved and dark furniture had been filling the houses for decades. Some of the better known British brands producing beautiful mid-century pieces are Ercol, G Plan and McIntosh, using solid teak wood and creating furniture that lasts.

As I am based in Britain it is hard to come across true Scandinavian made vintage furniture (I guess it wasn’t readily available up here to people in those days), but I do sell beautifully crafted pieces made in Britain in a style that reminds you of classic Danish design.

I regularly stock retro sideboards that look stunning in a contemporary setting, especially combined with some great artwork hung above it and some ceramics grouped together on top. Recently I also picked up a lovely small chest of drawers, a 1960s plastic woven chair and a wonderful Ercol dining table and chairs. Even though all of these pieces are up to 50 years old they would make any modern interior look stylish and up-to-date now. You only have to open one of the many Home Interior magazines and they are full of vintage and retro style items.

I was told that Marks & Spencer now does a replica of the 1962 iconic Ercol dining table and John Lewis has also started selling 1950s/60s style furniture. Great news that it has come back into fashion, but I still believe that you cannot beat the real thing. Yes, old stuff often comes with scratches, but what is nicer than introducing some well-made key designer pieces to your home that last, have a story to tell and have been loved by many?

Ercol dining table and four chairs £350.00

 

Mid-century chest of drawers £95.00 / chair SOLD

How I became the proud owner of five neglected Hans Wegner CH24 wishbone chairs

I always keep my eyes and ears open on the hunt for great vintage treasures. Last week I decided to randomly type in the words ‘bentwood chair’ in the search box of our local Gumtree and in the listings I found something that immediately caught my eye. I contacted the owner to arrange a viewing and in his back garden I found five battered, dirty, damaged chairs – but of an unmistakable design and the leftovers of the labels on the bottom made me smile from ear to ear: here I had no less than five original Hans Wegner wishbone chairs. He got them from a house-clearing somewhere, some time. I couldn’t believe my eyes – nor the price: £60 for the lot! They do need complete re-lacquering and seat replacement at some point, but for now I am the proud owner of a beautiful set of salvaged Danish designer classics.

 

Looking good around our beech dining table!
I added cushions…to prevent my cats from getting their claws into those vintage paper cord seats!
Some more wishbone chair love (in much more grand and stylish homes than mine 😉 …
http://pinterest.com/pin/178595941442396649/
http://pinterest.com/pin/196751077440968595/
http://pinterest.com/pin/9570217928624774/
http://pinterest.com/pin/9570217928624774/