GLOBAL FUSION!! Taking inspiration from the tiles of Lisbon

Whilst walking the hilly streets of Lisbon I was captured by the tiled buildings I was surrounded by, compelled to take numerous photos of the ceramic-shelled architecture!  I’m not entirely sure why!

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Having done a small amount of research I found that the art of the ceramic tile in Lisbon is known as ‘Azulejos’, an Arabic word meaning ‘polished stone’.  These tiles are used to decorate everything, from walls of churches and monasteries to houses, subways and park benches.  They came about in the Gothic period where there appeared to be a need to decorate large expanses of white plaster.  In Italy they used frescos, in Portugal there were tiles!  As well as serving a decorative purpose they also served a functional purpose in temperature control.  To begin with the tiles were imported from Seville and in accordance with Islamic law were not allowed to incorporate human forms and so consisted of geometric patterns- this could be the reason why I was so taken by them- my geeky mathematic mind has always been drawn to geometric images!  Later on the Portugese started to produce their own and began incorporating human figures and animals.DSC03195 - Copy

The dominant colours in the tiles are green, blue, yellow and white.  Although these tiles can be found in other European cities it is quite apparent that in Lisbon the Azulejos take on an expressive poetic form lacking in others.

Having been captured by these tiles I was very excited to find that B&Q stock tile effect wallpaper at just £10 a roll and Topps tiles sell ‘Lisbon effect’ tiles at £40-£70 per square meter.

I love the idea of being able to incorporate elements of my travel into my interior design and retro furniture collection from around Europe.  With high street shops now stocking these ranges and restored furniture from around Europe readily available this can be done easily and cost effectively.

P.S. Lisbon is an amazing city to visit!

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With the historic buildings and trams interspersed with grittier more bohemian areas reminiscent of East Berlin and the best custard tarts you will ever eat Lisbon is a city you could visit again and again and always find new corners and experiences.  Having been to numerous European cities there have not been any others that I have felt a need to return to!

 

The New Adventures of KPlan Kate: Louis Chairs, Stab Wounds and Gel Nails

Since my blog is about KPlan Kate and her furniture I thought I should really write one about some furniture!

In Belgium I purchased three French Louis style chairs.  Now there are four different styles of Louis chair.  I will tell you all about them!

So, there were four King Louis’ of France and the furniture at each of their different times of reign had a different style.  Fashions in those days developed based on what the King liked, so the style of furniture the King of the moment liked became fashionable and so the style was named after him.  King Louis XIII reined from 1610 to 1643 during the late renaissance period.  The chairs from this era have straight backs, turned legs and more often than not, curved arms.  At the bottom of the chair, between the legs they have ‘H’ shaped stretchers to hold them together.  They looked quite like this:

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King Louis XIV reigned from 1643 to 1715 during the Baroque period.  These chairs tended to be much larger providing more space for the large puffy dresses worn by the ladies at that time!  He also built himself a huge Chateau with huge rooms and so needed large bits of furniture to fill them! The backs didn’t tend to be attached to the seat of the chairs as they were previously and the arms and legs were very intricately carved and sometimes gilded with bronze or silver.

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Then came Louis XV from 1715 to 1774.  The Louis XV style was Rococo.  The big difference here was that the chairs have a cabriole leg-kind of like an ‘S’ scroll shape.  Again the chair evolved to fit the fashion of the time with shorter arms to accommodate the large hoops in the women’s dresses.   The chairs at this time were quite feminine with curves and fancy carved motifs and gilding.  They looked like this:

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The final Louis was Louis XVI and the style was neoclassical.  The biggest clue as to whether you have a Louis XVI chair is again in the leg.  They always have tapered straight legs.  They were trying to recreate the patterns of the ancient Greeks and Romans in these chairs, so they are carved with laurel leaf wreaths and fluted columns.

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Having looked at hundreds of pictures of Louis style chairs there seem to be a lot of overlaps in the various styles but the biggest clue is always the legs.  The three chairs I picked up in Belgium all have straight tapered with laurel leaves carved into the arms.  They also have column patterns around the seat.

So, I set about restoring the chair I thought would be easiest.  The upholstery was in really good condition.  It is black velvet.  The frame, however was less desirable.  It was really chipped and parts had completely crumbled away.

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I set about filling these crumbled bits with some wood filler and a teaspoon!  I always find myself using cutlery for this kind of thing despite possessing a complete plethora of tools.

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After waiting for the filler to dry I sanded it with some really fine sandpaper, then gave the whole frame a lick of black gloss paint, added some new little pads on the bottom of the legs and the chair looks like new!

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The other two chairs are currently causing me a lot of grief.  They need reupholstering and the frames need stripping and re-finishing.  Before I could even start on all this I’ve had to remove close to a million pins and staples just to remove the old material.  I’ve endured stab wounds from the steak knife I’ve been using along with the more conventional tack remover and nausea from the paint stripper fumes!  As soon as I have finished I will write a blog all about it!

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On the plus side-my gel nails withstood the paint stripper!!