Mad Men de­sign: sexy and ruth­less

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DEB­BIE TRAVIS

ONE of the hottest in­te­rior de­sign styles to­day is the retro ’60s look. It’s hardly sur­pris­ing given the wildly pop­u­lar TV se­ries Mad Men, a show that is set in 1960s New York and based on the in­ti­mate and high-pow­ered lives of men and women in the world of ad­ver­tis­ing. You can’t get more sexy or ruth­less. And as we re­live that fast-paced era, the fur­nish­ings and fash­ions be­come equally com­pelling. You see it in the movie A Sin­gle Man, also set in the 60s.

It was in the ’50s and ’60s that Scan­di­na­vian con­tem­po­rary fur­ni­ture cap­tured the lime­light. It was about straight, sim­ple lines, pieces had no or­na­men­ta­tion, but were built from beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral woods — teak, wal­nut, oak, birch and ma­hogany. Chairs and so­fas were util­i­tar­ian, but made com­fort­able with up­hol­stered seats and backs.

To­day’s ex­cit­ing con­tem­po­rary look is cap­tured in the fur­nish­ings shown here by Palazzetti. And as fresh and cool as it is, you can see the re­sem­blance to the hot de­signs of fifty years ago repo­si­tioned to be mod­ern again.

The room is com­posed of pieces that are rest­ful, easy to live with, yet is filled with eye-catch­ing qual­i­ties that in­fuse the space with en­ergy and life. The quiet play of tex­tures and pat­terns are ev­ery­where. The wood cre­denza has a crossed Canaletto wal­nut fin­ish on the slid­ing-door fronts. Rip­ple vases with cac­tuses are a fun throw­back. The Ab­brac­cio chairs are curved and padded for com­fort and style, with an oval side ta­ble also in wood. The shaggy Tokyo rug is a mod­ern mix of wool and flax with a nub­bly tex­ture that bare feet love.

Warm neu­tral fabrics are cho­sen to blend with the nat­u­ral wood tones. The glass-top cof­fee ta­ble adds an airy re­flec­tive qual­ity as does the swirly white de­sign in the cush­ion fab­ric. Taken to­gether, this liv­ing room is wel­com­ing and of our times, with a nod to yes­ter­day’s fine de­sign. An ex­pres­sive For­nasetti plate on the ta­ble con­trib­utes the all-im­por­tant touch of retro style and hu­mour.

Dear Deb­bie — My fam­ily is try­ing to help our mother with her liv­ing-room ren­o­va­tion and can’t seem to make it work for her. She craves a space that is con­tem­po­rary yet cosy, warm and invit­ing. The space is quite large, and af­ter cre­at­ing a seat­ing area around the fire­place, there is an area to­ward the stair­case and front hall that feels like a hole. We have added pieces but now it feels to her like a fur­ni­ture ware­house. Could you please help us out with a bet­ter colour pal­ette and a more un­clut­tered de­sign?


Dear Amila — Thank you for the pho­tos. It can be a chal­lenge to get the right bal­ance and fur­ni­ture place­ment, but the best so­lu­tion is to move things around till they work. Yes, there is too much go­ing on, so be­gin by edit­ing out what you can. I would sug­gest you keep the sit­ting area, but you don’t need that ex­tra ta­ble and lamp against the wall be­hind the sofa. In the hall area in front of the stairs, there is not room for two sub­stan­tial pieces of fur­ni­ture. Move the tall china cabi­net and cen­tre the blue painted chest of draw­ers on that wall. To update the liv­ing-room walls, look for em­bossed paintable wall­pa­per in a pais­ley pat­tern and paint it a creamy but­ter yel­low. The red and gold you have is a bit tired look­ing. Raise up the cur­tains to the ceil­ing, and give them a darker hue by adding a dark red fringe or border so that the fabrics in the room don’t ap­pear to be so matched up. Add a con­tem­po­rary touch over the fire­place with a large mir­ror framed in sil­ver. Re­think the lamps. Per­haps keep the two that match and add a mod­ern floor lamp. Let me know how this works.

Of­ten, the sets we view on the small and large screens be­come our mod­ern re­al­ity.

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