Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

7 Sep 2014

Charleston, the house not the dance

It would be remiss of me not to feature Charleston House at some point as its influences on modern interior decoration were groundbreaking.  Home to artists and country retreat to the Bloomsbury set, this quintessentially British country farmhouse was transformed by its owners by their unique use of paint and surface decoration, so to me, this house embodies all that I love and strive for.

As photos are not allowed in the house and I always use my own on this blog, I can only show you the ones I took outside and through the windows (which was a bit cheeky I know), and when I go into more detail about my "Painters In Residence" term for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I will doubtlessly give examples and refer to the interior decoration at Charleston.

The gardens are very wild and painterly, nothing formal here for these bohemian artists, colour and texture are foremost in the planting.

Statues and busts are everywhere, and placed so that their presence makes sense with the overall aesthetic.

It made me very happy to think that such acclaimed and renown artists as these also painted their own walls and tables, it gives some validity to interior decoration, often seen as something separate from art.  
Heres a cheeky peak in a window, one of the many sitting rooms. 

 You can just catch a glimpse of a sponged stencil wall decoration to the right of the fireplace.  

I have long since held that view that if something is handmade it ought to look handmade, I revel in the imperfections and individuality they bring. So for me a house where the paint on the walls is patchy and you can see the brush strokes is heavenly. One of the reasons I first fell in love with Chalk Paint on walls is that it can, if required,  look a bit patchy, you can see brush strokes and it has a thickness and depth that normal wall emulsion lacks.  Of course, it depends on how you apply it, and thats also its strength, that because the paint is an artistic decorative paint you can manipulate it to suit your needs.  

Through the riot of garish dahlias you can peak the artists studio.

Pink and grey are very prevalent in the colour palette of artist Vanessa Bell.

This is Vanessa's bedroom, with the portrait of her son who was killed in the war. Its very plain compared to the other rooms in the house. Several rooms have walls of black/dark grey with stencilled patterns and gold framed paintings.  The works of art here collected from their contemporaries like Picasso and Matisse, nestle amongst the handpainted beds, screens, tables, trunks, bookcases and doors. The lines aren't perfectly straight, the finish is patchy ad swirly, and most of all, the colours are brave yet subtle all at the same time. 

The interior of the house has a lot of stencilled walls, which if you know my style you will understand why I love it so much. The colour palette is very similar to that of Annie Sloans paint collection and when I asked what paints were used on the wall of the house I was told "whatever paint they had to hand, with chalk in it possibly", how funny. 

I have lots of looks I now want to emulate, the black walls with red corners (never seen that before), the runny watery wash, more stencils (of course), and more unusual colour combinations.  Charleston house I haven't finished with you yet.

(Charleston is in East Sussex near Lewes). 
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