10 January 2019

At Charleston House: Swirls of Color and Pattern

Tucked Under
A virtual visit through the interiors of the former house of painter Vanessa Bell in Sussex, England, a destination we've added to our list of places to visit in 2019.

Seeking inspiration for a recent project, and drawn to an eclectic mix of color and pattern, an artist friend of ours referred us to the interiors of Charleston House, a country house (and, now a museum) in Sussex England with a storied history. Once the home of painters Vanessa Bell (Virginia Wolf’s sister) Duncan Grant, and his friend and lover David Garnett, plus three children, it was a destination for the Bloomsbury group of artists and writers, including T.S. Elliot and E.M. Forester. While living in the house over a lifetime, it became a place to paint not just on canvas, but on every available surface including walls, bookcases, and doors, experimenting with color and texture. Probably the most famous of the rooms is this one, where an over-scale paisley stencil pattern on all of the walls prevails.

Vanessa Bell created this room’s decorative scheme of grey stencilled paisley shapes, with freehand white flowers in 1945.

In two views of this room, you get a feeling for how relaxed but at the same time eclectic the vibe in the main living space was. Paintings hung on top of the paisley stenciled walls is inspirational.

The complexity of the fireplace decoration is overwhelming. So many layers of artwork, color, not to mention the variety of objects on top of the mantel.

Paul Massey House

Apparently the garden was one of Vanessa Bell’s passions. It has been restored and brought back to life in recent years, and worthy of a visit in and of itself.

We’re planning a visit to Charleston in 2019!  We’ve been told to dress warmly and to wear comfortable shoes for wandering around the garden. You can see how Lauren was inspired by the paisley stencil when she designed an all over stencil motif for the Entry way of her home here.

— Lauren & Suzanne
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