Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The second day of a self-indulgent indulgent week when I post about the color blue in decoration and, coincidentally, the third in an occasional series about bathrooms. I don't have a lot to say about it - my enthusiasm for blue has already been declared - but, as with the room yesterday by Mark Hampton, I could roost very comfortably here.

Let me give you a taste of Christopher Gibbs' text about the owner of the house, Piers von Westenholz.

"Piers and his friends looked back before the baleful blanching-out of Syrie Maughm, the thoughtless dragging, stippling and obliterating of architectural framework, the revolt against historicism, the ghastly chic of Evelyn Waugh's Mrs Beaver in A Handful of Dust, the litter of tawdry gewgaws and 'antiques' restored beyond any interest, quality or atmosphere.

"It was time to return to old England, England before the Industrial Revolution and mass manufacturing spawned that nadir of designed depravity, belle époque. They searched out, dusted down, revived and refreshed the true orthodoxy, anchored firmly this side of the Channel, grounded in ancient harmonies, preserved in our architectural traditions, and in the use of materials felled or mined in our islands.

"What was despised by the taste-makers of the past decades - oaky gothick, Tudorbethan, the sternly architectural and archaeological - is cherished by Westenholz. These foundations are garnished by often earlier, more familiar pieces - painted, or in mahogany, walnut, even satinwood - and by drawings, paintings and sculptures by his friends and contemporaries such as Book Bantock, Rory McEwan and Nigel Waymouth .... "

A fine piece of writing that, despite the patriotism, is full of heartfelt detestation of modern manufacturing and it's consequences.

Photo by Jonathan Pilkington for an article written by Christopher Gibbs for The World of Interiors, October 1997.


  1. That's just a beautiful shade - storm-sky blue. It makes the room.

  2. Jaw-dropping prose, that. Thanks Blue.

  3. That bathroom certainly does it for me. Blue, are your eyes are blue? I enjoyed "...back before the baleful blanching..." and "...nadir of designed depravity."

  4. Sanity Fair, thank you - belatedly. It is the kind of blue I like, strong yet not strident and I agree about it making the room. I have yet to meet the blue room I don't like - or, at least, object to the use of blue even if I dislike the room overall.

    Mr Darling - sorry for the delay in replying. Sometimes a writer can make anything interesting - its the writing not the subject. I remember years ago an article in the New Yorker written about geology and despite not understanding much the way it was written - it made me want to understand.

    There's a couple of other rooms from the Westenholz house I'd like to post so there will be more of Mr Gibbs' prose.

  5. Terry, my eyes are brown - I come from a dark-haired, olive-skinned tribe so its pretty inevitable my eyes are not blue. In my case, the dark hair and olive skin is pretty much faded to ash. Rory's are blue/green/grey and fascinatingly changeable depending on what he is wearing.