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!
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.
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!
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!
For a long time I believed that all furniture in one room had to be made from the same wood and be from the same furniture range. I have more recently become aware that this is not true! There are no rules that state this and incorporating contrasting styles of furniture and accessories into a room adds texture and can bring a room to life. My house is definitely a mixture of styles and none of it was entirely planned or possibly to anyone’s other than my taste but I’m quite happy with it! Using a mixture of styles also makes it easier for a room to evolve as trends and your tastes change- bits can be added or removed without having to start from scratch or redecorate.
There are rules that need to be followed when attempting to combine modern and vintage or retro style furniture otherwise you’ll end up with a crazy, headache inducing eclectic hotch potch of a room!
Number one is to go for a neutral backdrop- greys, creams or whites then add interest with your furnishings. This will also ensure any statement pieces will really stand out and will not be lost within the room.
So number two is the 80:20 rule. As long as you stick to a modern style for 80% of your furnishings the other 20% can be made up with either vintage or retro. Maybe try pairing a modern contemporary table with some retro style chairs? Or vice versa a retro desk with a modern contemporary chair?
Number three- make sure that the 20% vintage/retro items are evenly distributed throughout the room. One random piece of French vintage furniture may look a bit odd amongst its modern counterparts however dotting some French vintage style accessories such as a lamp or jug on these modern pieces will help!
Number four- don’t mix ornate styles such as Chinese or baroque with simple styles such as arts and crafts or Danish retro. They do not mix well!
And finally number five- make sure every piece of furniture and accessory is beautiful in it’s own right.
I read somewhere that a successful space should be made up of smaller vignettes, meaning that if you took photos of random areas of a room each one should be an exquisite snap shot.
For inspiration visit my board on Pinterest specifically made for the mixing of retro/vintage and modern furniture.