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When the mercury hit 40 back in July, many of us wished our homes were better equipped to deal with extreme heat. While we can’t transform a country cottage or London townhouse into a Provençal chateau overnight, we can still learn some design lessons from Mediterranean interiors.

‘Mediterranean design’ can be difficult to pin down - in part because this style actually borrows from all over the world. And yet certain features make it instantly recognisable, like swathes of natural light, a heady mix of natural materials, and a total embrace of the surrounding landscape.

A common misconception is that it means whitewashed. While you will see plenty of white both inside and out of Mediterranean properties, the true essence of the approach is rooted in colour - a palette inspired by the natural world surrounding the property.

Mediterranean interiors are laid-back yet considered. They're rooted in nature yet they feel contemporary. Below, we discuss a few ways you can bring this look into your own home - whatever the season.

Preparing your canvas

Some are lucky enough to inherit a Mediterranean feel when they move into a property. Ever since the years of the ‘Grand Tour’, British architects have looked beyond our island confines for property inspiration. Archways connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, or courtyard gardens stemming seamlessly from bedrooms or living spaces, provide a natural starting point for Mediterranean-inspired living. It's not all luck of the draw, though, and you can lean into this style through renovating or just decorating.

Mediterranean design relies on organic textures, and this starts at the base level of a space. For example, raw plastered walls, stone flooring and plenty of tiles naturally create a villa feel. Sometimes this is in cool, neutral tones, but not always. Indeed, anyone who visited Portugal this summer will have seen plenty of ‘azujelos’; their iconic royal blue and saffron yellow patterned tiles. Terracotta, too, is at the heart of the Mediterranean look, with its warm earthy tones exuding depth and character.

Terracotta flooring instantly bestows rustic chic on a property, while marble floor and wall tiles bring timeless palatial luxury. However, like with any design device, you can go big or small. Use decorative tiles to create a statement washbasin splashback or to surround a garden fountain or statue, and get your terracotta fix from indoor and outdoor planters.

Throughout the Cotswolds, you’ll often spot sage green shutters in the windows of traditional stone houses. These serve the practical purposes of keeping onlookers and the weather out, but shutters are also synonymous with Mediterranean style. Look to these as a simple way to transform the feel of your home without making any major changes.

Tactile textures

As we’ve already mentioned, texture is the crux of Mediterranean design. It relies on natural materials to bring a living, evolving feel to indoor spaces.

Timber is a key ingredient in this, and the more rustic the better. Natural wood brings much-needed warmth to Mediterranean interiors, especially where you do have an abundance of white or neutral shades. Think live edge dining tables and driftwood sculpture, complete with every knot, burl and medallion that speak to their long life. 

Similarly, rattan has always brought a sense of warmer shores to our homes. This versatile, strong material is synonymous with laid-back living, whether it's used for a chair or just a lampshade. Rattan and wicker offer a ready canvas for soft furnishings, providing just enough structure while imbuing a space with a welcoming feel. 

On that note, linen is your go-to material for softening such a space. The flax plant is native to the eastern Mediterranean, and creates a fabric that’s at once soft and textured - characterised by its raised slubs and flecks. Use a sheer linen for drapes that let dappled light in, or stronger blends for bedding or scatter cushion covers.

Relics of land and sea

The eclectic range of antiques that survive from this corner of the world testify to its diverse history. From furniture to objets d’art, these relics infuse our homes with character and intrigue.

Vernacular Spanish timber tables and benches with heavy, simple joinery ground interiors with their primitive aesthetic and sense of craft. Italian and French armoires, complete with remains of old paint, bring relaxed, farmhouse charm to a bedroom. You can also nod to this style with smaller decorative pieces, like French confit pots with their dripping glaze frozen in time.

Lighting is key to keeping Mediterranean interiors cosy and welcoming in dark winter months. Look to weighty cast iron candelabras and towering candlesticks for magical, atmospheric lighting. For more practical task lighting, choose gilded sconces or table lamps crafted from marble, travertine or ceramic.

We’re fortunate to have a host of sunburst mirrors brightening up our showrooms at the moment. Most originate from Spain or France, and some are by Chaty Vallauris - the Provence-based design house that made the sunburst their iconic legacy. These statement mirrors, with their mesmerising rays and glittering gold leaf, guarantee sunshine on even the bleakest midwinter day.

The Mediterranean embrace of the natural world extends to art and ornaments, too. From giant ammonite fossils to conch shells that whisper of the sea, nature’s sculptures bring a sense of the scale and history of our earth into our homes. They remind us of past travels and encounters and evoke the curiosity of our visitors.

The Mediterranean garden

When we think of the Mediterranean, the natural landscape is often the first thing that comes to mind - and not just the sea. From the vivid trails of Bourgainvillia that line Grecian streets, to French fields of lavender, each corner of the Mediterranean has its own chorus of mesmerising flora.

Mediterranean Sea Holly grows wild in this and other parts of the world, but you will also find the spiny plant in some British gardens. Recognisable for its blue, green and violet colours, this herbaceous perennial is as eye-catching as it is low-maintenance.

Olive and bay laurel trees are other staples of Mediterranean gardening, as are citrus trees - although these are better suited to an orangery during the British winter. Watching fruit grow from a mere seed is a rewarding antidote to seemingly endless grey days.

In the kitchen, keep rosemary, sage, or tarragon plants on your windowsill. If they don't spark culinary inspiration, they'll at least waft the scent of the Med your way. 

Give your flowers and foliage a fitting home with bold planters. Whether you're drawn to classical stone urns or dramatic metal jardinières, the Mediterranean has plenty to offer in this area, too.

Soft touch

Some of us long for the warmth of a Mediterranean summer all year round, but British reality is… well, quite different.

While this style may feel more instinctive in the summer months, it's actually accommodating of all seasons. The trick is textiles - of every kind, in every room. These form a crucial layer in the make-up of any space, but especially in Mediterranean interiors.

Rugs and runners offer welcome respite from cool stone flooring, while window dressings will soften stone or tiled walls. Contrast is key for keeping your surroundings stimulating as well as comfortable; the coarse texture of a hemp rug softened by woollen throws or sheepskin, for instance.

Textiles offer an opportunity to satisfy our cravings for colour on grey days. The Mediterranean basin was once a vibrant trading ground for pigments, and these original colours offer a springboard for decorating. Blend jewel-like indigo blues and malachite greens with earthier tones of ochre and madder red to evoke Mediterranean interiors. 

It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to such a ubiquitous design style. Browse our lookbook to inspire your own Mediterranean journey. 


From the sun-soaked parasols of the Amalfi coast to crumpled sweetshop bags on the English Riviera, stripes are everywhere. They always have been, in various forms, but their presence feels particularly loud right now.

Perhaps it's because we crave their unabashed joy in the midst of gloomy national and international developments, or because we’ve been busy whole-heartedly embracing summer after years of restriction. Whatever the reason, manifestations of this versatile pattern range from classic to retro.  

For the love of stripes - antiquesA chequered (striped) past

Stripes have not always stood for beauty and joy, though. During medieval Europe, they actually signified an outcast and those condemned to wear stripes included hangmen and court jesters. This was mostly down to a bible passage which dictated: “You will not wear upon yourself a garment that is made of two.” Christians interpreted this to mean clothing of two contrasting colours. Because of their simple and obvious nature, stripes drew attention and demonstrated 'otherness.' To this day, prisoners around the world wear stripy uniforms to hinder their chances of escaping unnoticed.

Classic or frivolous?

The turning point for the pattern came at the end of the 18th Century. Tastemakers were exhausted by the heavily ornate rococo and chinoiserie styles that had dominated up until then. With the enlightenment came a countermovement - neoclassicism - and with neoclassicism came a newfound love for stripes. Stripes now stood for simple elegance and a sense of order that stemmed from classical architecture.

This was the era of the Regency stripe - a wide stripe in one colour flanked by two or more narrower ones in a contrasting shade. Still popular today, this classic stripe works anywhere from clothing to upholstery. Across the channel, French seamen wore woven shirts featuring 21 navy stripes - one for each of Napoleon’s victories. This classic nautical stripe would later inspire the iconic Breton shirt, and so begun fashion’s love affair with the pattern.

Fast forward to the 1920s and stripes were now appearing on all sorts of clothing; suits and ties, cricket and rowing blazers, and even candy-striped swimwear. Once the 20th Century had weathered two world wars, no advert for the seaside was complete without a swimsuit bearing the pattern.

It wasn't just fashion that started to harness the power of stripes, but hospitality too. Wide ‘awning stripes’ get their name from the shops and restaurants that sported them, becoming synonymous with a warm welcome. Throughout history, stripes have offered a joyous antidote. 

Ticking stripes - from mattress to design icon

The stripe has been through many guises, and not all of them were purely driven by aesthetic. Ticking refers to the dense woven cloth that once covered mattresses, designed to protect you from harsh fillings like straw and horsehair. The cloth featured a uniform pattern of wide and narrow stripes, usually in a muted palette of black, blue or red.

Despite its humble origins, mattress ticking has had a monumental ripple effect in the design world. Fabric houses from Chelsea Textiles to Colefax & Fowler have released their own versions, while other traders specialise in original antique cloths.

Indeed, ticking stripes have become a distinctive marker of English country house style, where they decorate anything from sofas to valances. Ticking is a shining example of how stripes can feel refined, with a timeless appeal that weathers passing trends. 

Country House Style | Antiques

How to use stripes

Striped cloth dates back to the ancient Egyptians, making it one of the oldest patterns on record. The wildly different ways we've embraced them over the centuries goes to show just how versatile they are. This simple pattern is the building block of plaids and checks, as well as geometric designs. 

From seaside to fireside

When we think of stripes in interiors, fresh nautical schemes often spring to mind. Certainly, lots of striped fabric instantly brings a relaxed beach house feel to a garden room or shepherd’s hut. Outside, too, nothing evokes nostalgia quite like a stripy deckchair or parasol.

But stripes do have their place in more traditional environments as well. After all, they first came to the fore in opulent French drawing rooms and classic English country houses. Upholstery fabric is perhaps the most obvious use, and one that allows a lot of room for personal interpretation. A classic Howard & Sons sofa or armchair, for example, remains understated and elegant with a Regency stripe fabric, or gets a heady lift with a bright awning stripe.

Stripes don’t have to be the only pattern in a room, either. In fact, they layer beautifully with fluid, ornate patterns like toile de jouy. A simply striped sofa in front of a chinoiserie wallpaper, or a striped Swedish flatweave in amongst chintzy upholstery, is the sort of bold decorating that really pays off. Statement walls painted with lemon yellow stripes, or a more traditional striped wallpaper, can transform the feel of a room.

For the love of stripes | Antiques

Small doses

If you’re not quite ready to paint candy stripes across an entire wall, the pattern works just as well in small doses. Striped valances and headboards bring a light-hearted joyfulness to the bedroom setting without feeling overwhelming, for instance. Scatter cushions have the same effect, offering a good opportunity to blend different types of stripe in one setting. 

Even if an interior appears to have no stripes at all, a closer look often reveals their powerful presence. For instance, a simple border around an otherwise plain rug draws the rest of the room in - conversing with other geometry in the room to create a considered feel. Lampshades in bright, contrasting stripes, or with subtler top and tail trims, can add a little or a lot of this chic pattern to a space.

When it comes to this ubiquitous pattern, no home or personal style is off-limits. With autumn well on its way, look to the humble stripe to keep the joy of balmy summer days alive. 


Shop the look, visit our lookbook 'For the love of stripes'.

The art of collecting antiques is a diverse one, spanning everything from film memorabilia to 18th Century mahogany furniture. The areas that often fascinate the most are those that relate to the lives of everyday people - from their cooking and eating habits to their romantic lives. Apothecaries, with their promise to heal one’s aches and pains before the dawn of modern medicine, have left behind objects that offer a unique insight into the lives of our forebears.  

What is an apothecary?

What was would be a better question, as despite their best efforts to brand themselves as pharmacies, the modern-day equivalent would shrink from the association. 

The word apothecary comes from apotheca - a place where wine, spices and herbs were stored - and it first came into our language in the 13th Century. Somewhat confusingly, 'apothecary' refers both to the salesperson and to their shop. For a long time, apothecaries were lumped in with grocers, spicers, and all manner of merchants. They were simply another group trying to sell their wares.

Quack medicine

Medieval medicine was based, for the most part, on the supernatural and superstitious. Apothecaries would swear that concoctions such as ‘Oil of Scorpion’ or ‘Balsam of Life’ could cure anything from boils to baldness. Their medical advice revolved around 'humoral theory' - the idea that we have four liquid humours in the body, and when these are out of balance you get disease.

‘Oil of Earthworms’ is an infamous example, promising to fix all manner of joint issues like arthritis and rickets. As the name suggests, it involved boiling earthworms in olive oil to apply to affected areas. While the oil was helpful, the role of the earthworms is dubious at best. It is perhaps not surprising then, that apothecaries were accused of 'quack medicine.' This phrase comes from the Dutch word quacksalver, meaning someone who falsely claimed medical knowledge in order to sell their wares.

Royal recognition

The lucky break for these early chemists came in 1617. That was the year ‘The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London’ - tricky to squeeze onto a business card - was formally incorporated by royal charter. King James I not only recognised apothecaries but separated them from grocers and gave them a level of medical credibility. This royal approval was driven partly by King James I’s fondness for his own apothecary, and he wasn’t alone - Samuel Pepys writes of loyally following the instructions of his when struck by illness. 

Apothecaries didn't stop there - in 1704 the society won a lawsuit against the Royal College of Physicians in the House of Lords. The ruling declared that apothecaries could prescribe and dispense medicines - a significant turning point for the group. The Apothecaries Act of 1815 then gave the society the right to carry out examinations and grant medical licenses in England and Wales.

While it’s easy to dismiss this early medical practice as nonsense, that would be an oversimplification. The trial and error during these centuries undoubtedly paved the way for later breakthroughs. Many of those who worked in the apothecary trade were earnest in their pursuit of cures, and closely involved with botany. For example, the apothecary society founded the Chelsea Physic Garden in 1673 for the purpose of growing medicinal plants. Some of the most awe-inspiring botanicals that decorate our walls today were by eminent apothecaries - including those of Basilius Besler.  

Inside the apothecary

Window shopping

Before you even set foot inside one of these establishments, a rather unique window display might have caught your eye. The ‘chemist’s carboy’ became a must-have for apothecaries in the 18th and 19th centuries.

These voluptuous glass bottles, often with elaborate cut glass stoppers, boomed in popularity alongside advances in glass production. While they were similar to the vessels you'd see inside, carboys were purely for advertising purposes. The owner would fill them with brightly coloured liquids to mimic chemical solutions and indicate their trade. 

Carboys are a popular collector's item today, and they make for majestic decorative pieces. Leave them empty or fill them with corks, and keep them in the window to really pay homage to the apothecary.

Cabinet of curiosities

Once inside the apothecary, cacophonous sound would greet you. The apothecary trade revolved around grinding, pulverising and stirring to create its potions and lotions. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the objects we commonly associate with medical history is the humble pestle and mortar. Still a stalwart of today’s country kitchen, these are as decorative as they are useful.

The apothecary himself would be stood behind a counter, likely with a set of measuring scales in front of him. Indeed, scales are so synonymous with the trade that a measuring system was named after them - ‘apothecaries’ weights and measures.’ Many of these T-shaped balancing systems survive today and they bring quirky character to a kitchen. 

It’s not just the tools of the trade that appeal to collectors. Unique apothecary furniture is highly desirable for injecting personality into interiors. Apothecary cabinets seem to trap the magic of the trade in their many drawers, with the remains of old labels for all things weird and wonderful. Countertops pummelled by hard work, a deep-aged patina, and a curious history - what more could you want for a soulful interior? Use these as a decorative sideboard, or make use of the drawers in a painting or textiles studio.

Cupboards, too, were essential furniture for apothecaries. Some of these charming cabinets feature remains of old paint, while others are simple brown wood. All offer a welcome alternative to fitted kitchen or pantry cabinets.

Antique apothecary bottles

Perhaps the most enduring legacy of apothecaries is the many bottles and jars that have lived to tell the tale. Glass was used for making apothecary bottles from the 1600s onwards. These range from clear glass, to humble brown, to azure blue. Apothecaries favoured coloured glass over clear to protect the contents from sunlight. They come in different shapes and sizes which can, to the discerning eye, give hints of their former purpose. For example, apothecaries used wide-necked bottles for syrups, so the stopper wouldn't stick to the viscous liquid. These are just a few examples of how yesterday's pragmatism has become today's beauty.

Collectors pore over the remains of labels, which were often a shimmering gold with black print. The idea of ornate medical bottles seems absurd today, but it indicates the pride and showmanship that accompanied this trade. These labels revealed the contents, usually in full or abbreviated Latin. A coveted example, such as ‘Oil of Earthworm’, is a momentous find for the serious collector. Apothecary travelling chests are also popular. These portable cabinets were the first aid kit of yesteryear, containing several bottles of solutions the traveller couldn't go without. They often had fine wood exteriors and plush silk or velvet interiors.

But the wonderful thing about apothecary antiques is that the mundane is often just as desirable as the historically significant. Fill a cluster of simple, aged apothecary bottles with garden flowers to bring whimsical charm to kitchen or bathroom shelves. Alternatively, go for the ‘en masse’ approach, with reams of apothecary bottles assembled on open shelving for dramatic impact. 

Where did all the apothecaries go?

Apothecaries peaked in the 1700s, but soon gave way to Victorian chemists around the turn of the century. As medicine became a more serious discipline and industrial revolution transformed production, apothecaries faded into the history books.  While 'Oil of Scorpion' may not be a go-to remedy in our local pharmacy - thankfully - we can still celebrate the charming relics of this bygone era.

Shop the look and browse our collection of apothecary antiques, from grand cabinets to humble jars, here


We talk to ‘Antiques Roadshow’ expert Chris Yeo about collecting Mid-Century glass. He says ‘dancing with light and alive with colour, Mid-Century glass makes a bold statement, just try not to get too hooked’.

Glass Act

When I tell people I work in antiques the question I’m invariably asked (after “When do you hope to get a real job?”) is “What do you collect?” and my answer is absolutely nothing. Although I’ve lived, eaten and breathed antiques since childhood the idea of amassing a collection of any one thing or group of things has never held any appeal. With one exception, that is. 

Roughly twenty years ago, on a typical Saturday morning mooch around an antiques market (remember them?), I came across something that stopped me in my tracks. It was a glass vase, a sleek, weighty number in rich shades of blue and turquoise. It was love at first sight and, of course, I bought it. About a month later I bought another piece of glass, shortly followed by another and another – you get the picture. 

For the next few years, I hoovered up every piece of studio glass I could find. It was a labour of love and an obsession which bordered on an addiction. Put a piece of studio glass in front of me and I would find it near impossible to ‘just say no’. I won’t be too hard on my younger self.  There is, after all, something undeniably seductive about mid-century art glass: a perfect marriage of art, craft and design that melts the hearts of even the most ardent minimalists. Richly coloured and beautifully made, fine quality glass introduces just the right note of luxury, colour and sophistication into any interior.

The history of colourful glass

The Europe that emerged from the Second World War was a grey and dismal place. War-time shortages and rationing of “luxury goods” meant that people had been starved of colour for years. There was a huge demand for anything bright, fresh and modern, especially among young people setting up home for the first time.  Ceramics, textiles and wallpaper manufacturers all ramped up the colour quota but nowhere was this appetite for colour better nourished than amongst makers of studio glass. And, when it came to glass, no one understood colour better than the Italians.

Italian design came of age in the post-war years with a welter of colourful designs in both glass and plastic, materials which share the same malleable qualities. The magical process of transforming a bubble of molten glass into a vessel or piece of sculpture is a test of skill and artistry but the Italians took up the challenge with gusto and, of course, style. Highly individualistic designers celebrated colour for its own sake, applying it in ever more bold and dramatic combinations. Italian glass is more properly Venetian glass. Venice has always been the heart of the Italian glassmaking industry with a history of glass-blowing unparalleled anywhere else in the world. From the thirteenth century onwards Venice had held a monopoly on glassmaking in Europe, and its products—often extravagantly coloured, enamelled, and gilded—were treasured luxuries. Originally, Venetian glass was made - as you would imagine - in Venice, but the workshops were moved to the small lagoon island of Murano in 1291, in part because their kilns constituted a fire hazard to the city, but also to keep the glassmaking process a secret by isolating the makers on their own well-guarded island.

Now, I think it’s fair to say that for many of us our idea of Murano glass will have been “coloured” by a trip to Venice. You’ll have done the circuit of St Marks, paid through the nose for a coffee and then, along with ten thousand others, you will have been funnelled off into the narrow alleyways that lead off the square. You shuffle along passed shop after shop – each one dedicated to relieving you of as much money as possible - crammed with all manner of gaudy clowns, fish, dolphins and more Mickey Mouse figures than even Disneyland would want - all sold under the banner “Murano”. If this has been your only encounter with Italian glass you’d be forgiven for wanting it to stay that way but there really is so much more to Murano.

Examples of Murano glass

Murano Glass

From the 13th to the 18th century Murano glass was one of the wonders of the world with an unrivalled reputation for innovation, its glassmakers having developed, among other things, ways of incorporating threads of gold into their creations and techniques for the famous millefiori (multicoloured) and lattimo (milk) glass.  Amongst the myriad workshops that make up the Murano glass industry the most highly regarded and arguably the best known is Venini

The firm was founded in the early 1920s when an enterprising Milanese lawyer, Paolo Venini, established a new glass company on the island with a Venetian antiques dealer, Giacomo Cappelin.  Their breakthrough innovation was to copy the French fashion industry’s tradition of appointing an artistic director to create new designs and then drive them forwards. This was a stroke of genius which instantly put Venini at the forefront of fashion.  The firm collaborated with artists who transferred their skills from canvas to glass, combining bright vibrant colour with flair and confidence that’s the very essence of Italian style. As a strategy, it took glassmaking to new heights of excellence and kick-started the Italian studio glass movement. 

By the early 1930s, Venini was attracting the cream of Italian designers including Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti and Tyra Lundgren. The post-war years were Murano’s most dazzling and creative period. With its bold palette, Italian glass of the 1950s and ‘60s is instantly recognisable. Shapes have an easy asymmetry and a looseness of form reminiscent of folded fabric. In fact, one of the most popular shapes was the ‘fazaletto’ or ‘folded-handkerchief’ vases first made by Venini in the 1940s.

'Folded-handkerchief' by Venini

Glass around the world

With its vibrant colour combinations and top-quality design credentials, the Italians dominated the glass scene but they weren’t the only nation on the colour spectrum. In the UK the prestigious London-based firm of Whitefriars had been making glass since the 17th century and had a centuries-old reputation for restrained and elegant glassware but in the 1950s its fortunes changed when, like Venini, it engaged the services of an artistic director, Geoffrey Baxter (1912-95). 

Baxter was a young graduate fresh from the Royal College of Art, at that time a powerhouse of ideas about art and design. At Whitefriars, Baxter took the forms of Scandinavian glass – thickly-walled, with curving organic shapes and highly sculptural vessels – but, unlike the Nordic versions which used either clear glass or subtle, muted shades – Baxter used bright, rich colours to create something youthful and very British. Colourful things were also coming from behind the Iron Curtain. 

In Czechoslovakia, the glass industry was nationalised in 1948 and continued the centuries-old tradition of glassmaking in the Bohemian region. Bohemian glass had a reputation for excellence and the new Communist government did not deem glass to be an art form that was ideologically threatening, meaning that designers could work largely free of official control. This resulted in the creation of highly innovative modern designs that updated traditional methods of glassmaking and put Czech glass on par with the best that Italy had to offer.

Glass art by Whitefriars

Glass in the modern-day

Following on from its 1950s heyday,  studio glass is once again riding the crest of a wave of popularity. If you’ve never thought of having glass on display, think again: the allure of light playing on coloured glass can be just as compelling as a strikingly painted canvas. That said, some people remain a little nervous about living with glass – “It’ll get knocked over and smashed!” Truth is, most glass is more robust than you think and, so long as you’re not flinging it against the wall, it’s no less durable than pottery.  

Striking forms and colours make the piece a work of art in its own right and a real talking point. Art glass, displayed as a single statement piece or grouped together, brings warmth and colour to an interior as effectively as any painting and can also be a good way of introducing an accent colour into a room scheme. 

The sinuous, organic shapes and jewel-like hues so beloved of mid-century glass artists work as a counterpoint to the tailored interiors of today. Arranging collections of glass in groupings of similar colours and shapes create a strong visual impact. 

Remember, when it comes to glass, less is always more, don’t clutter shelves and tabletops with pieces. Instead, give each one space to breathe. You’ll find your art glass a source of inspiration as well as beauty.

Browse our collection of Mid-Century glass:

> Shop our Murano glass collection

> Shop glass and ceramics


Laura Muthesius and Nora Eisermann of Design Tales are inspired by nature. The Berlin duo shares their home and gives you their five top tips to create your very own Scandinavian interior.

Laura and Nora's five top tips

  • Use natural materials like wood, linen, stone and marble instead of plastic and polyester. We love the use of linen curtains, bed linens, wool and linen pillows or sofa covers, wooden furniture and of course, marble side tables!
  • Mix different materials in a way that create a vivid tension between different furniture items.
  • Use a natural colour palette. Using natural paint such as chalk paint gives a calm but lively look and atmosphere which helps to create a relaxing environment but highlights the architecture.
  • Respect the original details of your home, in fact, don't just respect them, save and highlight them! Not everything has to be perfectly new, it adds more charm and character if it's not.
  • Cherish the craftsmanship. Quality over quantity, invest in handmade, good quality pieces instead of going with every trend. Scandinavian designs are often classics making them timeless and a great investment!

About Design Tales

With homes in Skåne and Berlin, Laura and Nora love to travel! Nora studied fashion design but is now working as a (food-)stylist, and Laura studied photography and currently working as a photographer. The duo shares their passion for food, good design and interiors over on their website and on their Instagram.

Inside the home of Design Tales

There is no denying that antiques elevate our interiors in more ways than one. They connect us to the past and create unique spaces full of character. The often forgotten but equally important point is just how sustainable antiques are.

The fast furniture crisis

We spend a lot of time showing off our beautiful antiques here at Lorfords and too little time sharing how good for the planet they are. This may seem like an obvious statement, as antiques are in essence sustainable. And yet, in an age of climate consciousness around food, clothes and single-use plastic, the fast furniture crisis is on the backburner.

This doesn’t mean the crisis is not there, nor that it hasn't been exposed. A study commissioned by Antiques are Green found that a new piece of furniture lasts for an average of 15 years. Meanwhile, an antique piece of furniture is resold once every 30 years. This study concludes that the environmental impact of an antique piece is six times less than that of a new piece of furniture. Stark statistics indeed.

What is fuelling this crisis? Throwaway culture has become the norm. In 2019, the North London Waste Authority found that 22 million pieces of furniture are binned in the UK each year, with much of that going straight to landfill. Super low prices and the flatpack revolution have simply made it too easy for us. We’re on a conveyor belt of buying a piece of furniture, getting bored of it or it breaks, throwing it away and then buying another to replace it.

Conscious interior design

It’s not all bad though. A younger generation, the same age group we have labelled the ‘flatpack generation’ in years past, are waking up when it comes to their interiors. This is partly because they want to live an eco-friendly life and understand that fast furniture has a big impact on their carbon footprint.

But it is also because they are seeking soulful interiors – and the same can increasingly be said for all of us. The fast furniture culture resulted from modern living demands, the rent revolution and constantly changing fashions. The result was minimalist, functional… uniform.

The theory that such interiors aid our busy lives started to show cracks in lockdown. The Marie Kondo approach felt stark when our homes acted as a permanent base and refuge. This generation is seeking interiors with personality, character and soul. They want novel furniture and decorative pieces that provide a talking point. Our interiors are a reflection of us, so looking the same as everyone else isn’t cutting it anymore.

Why are antiques sustainable?

Antiques create more sustainable interiors - that's a fact. But why, exactly?

By definition

Antiques are one of the most forgotten forms of recycling, and yet one of the most obvious. To classify as an antique proper, an object must have survived for over 100 years. This is no mean feat and often a credit to the original craftsmanship. We already mentioned the statistic that antiques are resold every 30 years on average. They were crafted to last and be passed down through generations and that trend continues today.

Through materials and craft

Before the industrial revolution, cabinet-makers did everything by hand with a limited range of tools and techniques to hand. There was no MDF, nor any laminated chipboard.

Makers had to be invested in their product; if a piece fell apart after a few weeks, they would be the talk of their community – and not in a good way. There was a personal responsibility for good craftsmanship, a sense of ownership. It can feel like eco-consciousness is a relatively new development, but this is not the case. Back in the 19th Century individuals were striving to counteract the excess and waste of the industrial revolution.

One such pioneer was William Morris. His enduring mantra ‘have nothing in your home you do not believe to be beautiful or know to be useful,’ is more relevant than ever. The Arts & Crafts movement put moral responsibility back into furniture and interior design. Ernest Gimson made his Windsor chairs from ash, beech and elm sourced from local woodland. Given the fact that antique Windsor chairs are still very popular today, it is hard to get more sustainable than that.

It wasn’t just wooden furniture, either. Bamboo and rattan, both rapidly renewing plants, boomed from the Mid Century onwards. Leading designers of the age transformed them into stylish wicker furniture and homeware. Sustainable production certainly didn’t sacrifice style then, and it doesn’t now.

Through timeless appeal

Antiques are not bound by style, however. They are sustainable because they are not subject to the whims of fashion. Modern furniture companies jump on emerging trends and overhaul their collections when they are no longer fashionable. Antique and vintage designs, on the other hand, have a very enduring appeal. Take the iconic Chesterfield sofa, for example. Since its conception in mid 18th Century, the mighty button back has never been considered passé.

Likewise, a 17th Century oak refectory table has survived for over 300 years and lived to tell the tale. Such a piece may have characterful grooves and a deep aged patina, but its solid construction means it will likely go on for hundreds more. Aside from anything else, these are investment pieces. An antique dining table will serve you and probably your children and grandchildren too. It won't ask for much in return other than an occasional polish or reinforcement. A small price to pay, we think.

You need only flick through this month’s interiors magazines to see that we are moving in the right direction. Ethical sourcing and a ‘period meets contemporary' aesthetic are top of the agenda for an increasing number of interior designers. This sway is not only good for the planet, but for the end result. When you hire an interior designer, you don’t want them to present you with something akin to a department store showroom. You want something layered and lived in; this is what antiques provide in spades.

Making antiques work for you

For some, antiques feel too special, too majestic, for their lifestyle. But respecting antiques doesn't mean having no relationship with them. You can still be careful whilst making bold choices. We are seeing something of a ‘recovering revolution,’ whereby contemporary fabrics breathe new life into period pieces. This is a great way to adapt antiques to your taste. You might love the imposing proportions and design of a Victorian armchair, but the faded and dated covering? Not so much.

Part of the reason for the current throwaway culture is our reluctance to put a bit of work in. Less than 1 in 10 people are willing to repair an item to extend its life – a fact I’m sure would horrify our ancestors. Restoration and upcycling are not only satisfying, but they also connect you to your interiors in a personal way. If DIY is not for you, many talented experts are on hand to help. Read some tips for the amateur restorer from our in-house professional Dave.

The truth is there is a vast spectrum of antique and vintage pieces out there. Our collection offers something for every soul, from traditional Georgian furniture to cool vintage memorabilia. Not only are our pieces an antidote for flat interiors, but they are also an ethical choice. The best thing? There is no flatpack assembly involved.

Get inspired with our latest lookbook, 'The conscious interior.'

'Work from home.’ It’s the phrase that has defined the last ten months or so of our lives. Whether or not home has always been the natural habitat for your work, many have rushed to transform part of their house into a workspace. The Lorfords collection is full of unique pieces that will bring your dream Mid Century Modern home office to life.

The psychology of our interiorsJohn Guida fashion designs, lucite lamps, mid century furniture

Studies show that the more personal control we have over our office space, the happier we are. The ability to get creative with our workspace and have our favourite furnishings close at hand is a silver lining of the current circumstances.

One of the biggest challenges of staying at home has been drawing a line between work time and our personal lives. This gives you all the more reason to invest in your office space and create an environment you want to spend all day in, before returning to those parts of your home that you associate with relaxing.

Calm, uncluttered surroundings encourage efficiency and productivity. This can be difficult to achieve at home, but by dedicating a space for work you are halfway there, and Mid Century Modern design will do the rest.

It can be easy to feel as though you are ‘playing office’ whilst working from home, so it’s important to get creative with your space and invest in it. Stylish and useful furniture is conducive to your productivity, as well as your happiness.

A la modeMid Century side table, lucite magazine holder, chinoiserie chair

Media and popular culture have made Mid Century design an object of fascination. From the smooth teak and glass of the Mad Men office to the contemporary prints and low chairs of Miranda Priestley’s office in The Devil Wears Prada, the understated glamour of a Mid Century Modern office is well-known.

The post-war period was a new age of prosperity, and many migrated to urban and suburban areas. After the horrors of war, there was a desire for more human, organic and natural design. Inspiration was sought from America and Scandinavia, and designers eagerly embraced new materials like plywood and plastic. Manufacturers had machinery and mass production at their disposal, so luckily many fantastic pieces survive today.

Furnishing newly built homes and smaller living spaces saw design take on new priorities, and functionality was a top priority. Designers didn’t skimp on style, however, and the iconic designs they brought to life have timeless appeal.

Mid Century designersJapanned cupboard, Mid Century Modern, home office

Designers of the Mid Century Modern period wanted to make furniture accessible to everyone, not just the very wealthy. The contributors to this new democratic style were many, including Arne Jacobsen and Harry Bertoia. Ray and Charles Eames were the design power couple of their day, and it's their executive desk that graces Don Draper's office in Mad Men.

Far from dull, design in this period was full of juxtapositions. Designs were extremely varied, and you might struggle to spot what a marshmallow sofa and a teak sideboard have in common. However, there were certain principles that united these designers in their plight: fine craftsmanship, quality, and chic style.

The straight-lined silhouettes of Mid Century Modern furniture make it the perfect choice for an office. Manufacturers of the period, such as Herman Miller, focussed in on office furniture and produced desks, chairs, and savvy storage solutions. George Nelson was a key mover and shaker in Mid Century Modern design. His iconic Storagewall design captured attention far and wide and he is credited with designing the first L-Shaped desk.

Redefine 'office'Mid Century Modern, home office

There’s more to working life than a desk and a chair. Nobody wants to work amongst empty cups of tea and a teetering stack of paperwork, but many of us do. It may be a cliché, but it’s difficult to argue with the concept of ‘tidy desk, tidy mind.’

It's often unrealistic to reimagine a whole room of the home in one style, but a few key pieces will transform a space. Credenzas and sideboards were already furniture stalwarts, but they were revolutionised in this period. Fitting unobtrusively against the wall, they provide storage and a surface for display. Most importantly, a sideboard or low cabinet means you can keep stress-inducing clutter out of sight.

When it comes to designing an office space, the mood can tend towards the clinical. Mid Century Modern is the perfect antidote to monotony because designers reinterpreted basic furniture with innovation and creative flair. Designers made chairs that were lower and broader, often supported on splayed UFO-style legs. They made many office-style chairs, with reclining and swivel functions. You've got your pick when it comes to desk chairs and should indulge in a big upholstered armchair for when you need a break.

Lighting was the major triumph of Mid Century design, and designs are famous and sought-after today. From practical floor lamps to Sciolari's spectacular sputnik light, lighting is the ultimate flourish for a 20th Century home office. Maison Charles’ iconic palm standard lamps demonstrate how natural forms were embraced in this period, and they make a great statement in an office setting.

Punchy Mid Century modern accentsLucite magazine holder, Mid Century Modern, home office

20th Century design was far from solely utilitarian. Designs from this period were full of creative flair, and this should be reflected in a Mid Century Modern office. This was the heyday of faux tortoiseshell, glass, contrasting woods, bright colour, and abstract art. Adorn a brass and glass coffee table with a lucite magazine holder, or fabulous colourful glasswork by Val Saint Lambert.

There’s no point in working in a space that won’t inspire creativity and progress. Surround yourself with fabulous contemporary art and sculpture that makes you feel content and calm. Colour and character are key to boosting your mood in a long working day. This was an age of bold and pioneering design, and by surrounding yourself with examples of it you encourage the same in your work endeavours.

Whatever your personal style, there is something to love in this spectacular period of design. Mid Century Modern pieces have the power to transform a space into the perfect home office. For further inspiration, have a browse of our lookbook: Office Envy.

Howard & Sons was established in 1820 by John Howard and the family business became an iconic name in Victorian England. Their beautiful pieces are still recognised as leading examples of upholstered furniture today and have inspired many bespoke copies.

Howard & Sons was curated for the top end of the market, satisfying demand that was not being met by other upholstered furniture at the time. The company's enduring popularity, resilient throughout the furniture depression of the early 20th Century, testifies to the excellence of their furniture.

Howard & Sons through the ages

Image of the casters at the feet of a Howard & Sons piece of furniture, showing the original marking which says 'Howard & Sons London'

Today, we exalt them for their armchairs and sofas. However, Howard & Sons started out as a cabinetry company, operating out of workshops in the Whitechapel area. John Howard's first venture into upholstered furniture started with a workshop on Red Lion St.

The company's most famous residence was at Berners Street in London, where they would eventually occupy numbers 25, 26 and 27. Many of their pieces are therefore signed, 'Howard & Sons, Berners Street.' They became a limited company in 1899 and won their first royal warrant in 1901.

The company began gathering accolades which raised their profile and secured them private clients. They won a prize at the prestigious Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1862 for their suite of library furniture. Their success was not only at home, winning two golds and a silver at the Paris exhibition of 1900.

Their warrant allowed them to supply royal residences with upholstered furniture, alongside other grand venues such as The Savoy Hotel. They also collaborated with Gillows, who were seen as leading cabinet makers in Victorian England.

Howard & Sons ceased trading for a period in 1947. Seven years later, the house decorators Lenygon and Morant Ltd described themselves as 'Makers of Howard Chairs and Sofas.' The Howard name fell silent once more, but the branding carried such power that Howard Chairs Ltd was established in 1967. Today, Howard Chairs Ltd is based on Lyme Street in London, producing furniture following the original patents and designs.

Iconic design

Howard & Sons antique sofa

The Howard & Sons name quickly became synonymous with durability, comfort, and beautiful design. The names attributed to their furniture models, such as the Bridgewater and Portarlington, still incite longing today.

These pieces are so coveted, regardless of their exterior condition, because of the renowned craftsmanship and timelessness of their designs. The most iconic Howard & Sons pieces are deep-seated and low, the cushions filled with a feather and down mix.

In 1866, George Howard patented the 'Elastic Seat', which revolutionised upholstered furniture. The coil springs allow for movement up and down as well as side to side, making for a much more comfortable seat.

Howard & Sons used the siège de duvet upholstery scheme, giving their easy armchairs and sofas a supreme comfort that was simply not being matched by competitors.

These cherished pieces have distinctive and elegant arms, which are much shorter than the length of the seat. Their original 'H&S' monogrammed ticking is the most classic, but original Howard pieces feature an array of patterns.

The only way to be sure you have an authentic Howard & Sons piece is a signature. Look out for an Ivorine label on the hessian, or name or number stamps on the castors or inside back leg.

Worthy investmentAntique Howard & Sons armchair, in original condition and in need of upholstery

Howard pieces perform consistently well on the market. Their value goes up year on year as we desire their rare comfort and luxury. Should reupholstery be necessary, you have the freedom to choose a fabric that reflects your taste. Acquiring a Howard armchair is always a good investment.

Many furniture companies offer bespoke reproductions of Howard & Sons pieces, or a restoration service. The Howard & Sons name has resonated throughout the interior design industry since its conception, with designers choosing their pieces to elevate a diverse range of interiors.

Choose pristine or newly reupholstered pieces in bright patterning to add a dash of colour to an otherwise minimalist, contemporary scheme. Howard & Sons pieces have a very fresh feel that compliments a range of decorative schemes.

On the other hand, the more 'shabby chic' look of some original pieces will bring charm and comfort to a country home, as well as a trusted furniture model.

Lorfords and Howard & SonsSelection of bespoke armchairs by Lorfords Created, which follow the Howard & Sons upholstery model

Here at Lorfords Antiques, you will find a selection of Howard & Sons sofas and armchairs. We cherish this upholstered furniture for its quality and longevity and continue to source pieces to preserve that legacy.

Lorfords Contemporary produces upholstered furniture in the style of Howard & Sons. Back in 2015, Marco Pierre White asked us to help furnish a historic hotel renovation in Singapore. This began our journey of making bespoke copies of Howard pieces, and we've never looked back.

Inspired by the Howard approach, we prioritise luxury and comfort and use traditional methods and materials as much as we can. Browse sofas, armchairs, headboards, ottomans, and more, which have all been hand-crafted in our Contemporary workshop.

Visit our lookbook, Quintessential upholstery to shop the look or to browse our collection of beautiful antique Howard pieces click below to see what we currently have in stock.

Find the perfect sofa or chair for your home, browse our Howard & Sons collection.