My husband and I are not your typical first time buyers. When we began house hunting in 2015, we knew we wanted a period property, something which we could grow into with bags of character; something which we could truly make our mark on.So in October 2015, we bought a Grade 2 listed, 6 bedroom Georgian property in Gorleston, Great Yarmouth, built in 1775, complete with a WW2 Air Raid Shelter in the garden. We looked at this property and this property only. From the moment we walked in, we knew we had found our dream home.
Words by Karen Barlow
Walking through a muddy field at an antiques market alongside my colleague on a cold morning, I was stopped in my tracks by a pair of chairs, tatty, worn and much used. We just stood there staring, totally captivated by their design. ‘They’re Halabala; I’ll show you’, the seller tried to justify the price tag, in his limited English. Using his iPad, he started to divulge to us the history of the iconic pieces of the much respected Czechoslovakian designer, Jindrich Halabala.
From this point onwards Halabala was responsible for fueling our passion for this modernist, clean lined, iconic design.
Professor Halabala was born May 24 1903, in the Czech Republic. He grew up alongside his father, doing chores, gaining experience and knowledge in his cabinet makers workshop. He then progressed to woodworking school, alongside practical work at United Arts & Crafts Manufacture (UP), where he completed his training. He then signed up for the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, where he graduated in 1926 before working in a local studio. His flare and passion for furniture design was recognised by UP. He was soon offered a directorial position at their factory based in Prague, and was later asked to set up their design studio based in Brno.
Known for his passion for design, he went on to become their development manager. Halabala’s vision was to produce high quality modernist furniture, with an affordable price tag that would outstrip expensive European high end designers in the global market place. His original designs were soon being mass produced for the first time in the Czech Republic despite the bleak times during the time of war.
Halabala produced two types of furniture, tubular steel and bentwood. His most significant design is from his H range, the H269, bent wood armchair. The sweeping arms that stretch forwards, reaching out and then sweeping under, creating the leg in the most eye catching shape that does not fail but to captivate.
Professor Halabala was not only a creator of furniture, but a creator of new ways to live, he is, and will forever be considered as a progressive producer in the last century. Completely redesigning modular furniture production processes for the Czech Republic, often lecturing at schools and colleges about furniture design.
Jindrich Halabala modernised furniture production with such style and flair that his designs appeared throughout homes across Europe. His commitment to the affordable lifestyle and everyday living gave Joe Average an affordable extravagance.
You can not fail to be impressed by the mans commitment to 20th Century furniture design. His legacy is now being restored, his designs revived and revered.
So if you’re a lover of iconic furniture design and you are internet savvy then you can now purchase your own impressive pair of Jindrich chairs, restored to match your home.
Home is where the heart is or, in my case, the collection of vintage bits and pieces that I’ve gathered over the past ten or so years. As I’m sure we all do, I love my home, and not only do I live in it, but I work there and enjoy entertaining there too.
Having passed the collector / borderline hoarder bug on to my boyfriend, our flat is starting to look like a vintage museum, with knick knacks covering the walls, displayed on shelves and stacked up in the hallway (that’ll be his ever-growing collection of Globetrotter suitcases…).
With retro homeware coming back heavily into fashion, you can find reproduction pieces in most high street shops. However, nothing beats having the good ol’ original items that are more likely to be unique to you and your home. Here’s my pick for five of the most essential:
The 1950s and 1960s were blessed with manufacturers such as Meakin, Beswick and Midwinter, all of whom produced fantastically designed crockery. In my home, we use our set of Homemaker plates everyday, although some designs are a little harder to find in such quantities. But have no fear! Simply grab a wall hanger or plate stand and your favourite plate becomes an instant piece of art. And there’s no need to stop at one… this is also a great way to cover an entire wall.
When it comes to vintage ornaments, the more bonkers the better. Similar to the plates, look to the 1950s for some brilliantly kitsch pieces, whether they’re of people, animals or simply an abstract shape. We use our ornaments to jazz up otherwise very boring shelves or mantelpieces, reminding us of the places we’ve found them. Sometimes these figures can also be functional; pictured is a cruet set (for salt, pepper and condiments) shaped like mushrooms!
Artwork and Posters
A house is not a home until you’ve hung things on the wall. But it doesn’t have to be traditional fine art that you put in a frame. As a graphic designer by trade, I love vintage posters and advertisements, and have many on my walls at home. Some signs can be very expensive, so why not cut the cost by finding pages from old magazines, vinyl sleeves, or playbills of the past? If you live in or love a particular city, maps and transport memorabilia also work beautifully.
If you haven’t heard the term already, you can probably imagine what it means; vintage bits and bobs for the kitchen. The great thing about kitchenalia from previous eras is that they’re usually made with brightly coloured and strong materials, meaning they will have aged really well. Even if the items you find have a few bumps or scratches, this simply adds character and proves they’re genuine! Bread bins, utensils, kitchen scales, measuring jugs… my latest obsession is copper jelly moulds. You can find them in all different shapes and sizes and, again, they look great on display too.
The statement piece
Whilst all of the above are fantastic for a vintage home, it’s always great to have one special item that’s a real statement. This is probably going to be bigger and more expensive than the other items on this list, like a piece of furniture for example, but it’ll be worth it. Make sure to find a conversation piece with a great story, whether that’s how you came about having it, or its history before it became yours.
Building a vintage home is a wonderful thing, but remember, it doesn’t have to be done overnight. The joy is compiling a collection over a long period of time, piecing together your story bit by bit. So go out there, explore and enjoy!
Most items pictured are available from Viva Soul London. See the website for more details : www.vivasoullondon.com
Lydia Jones : Lydia is a graphic designer, photographer, journalist and blogger. She is also the founder of vintage online store Viva Soul London (www.vivasoullondon.com / @vivasoul.london). You can find her on Instagram at @liddystardust
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