How to get the look today
Furniture – should be wooden and handmade or at least look as if it’s handmade. Oak is the most used wood. Look for furniture with cut-outs of upside down hearts; other trademarks are copper and leather straps. Chairs have rush or leather seats.
- Floors – Wooden floors in either parquet or boards in oak give that rustic feel. Polish or stain them to a dark finish.
- Colour schemes – cream, terracotta, mustard yellow, olive green, deep blue and a deep crimson.
- Walls – these can be wood panelled but should be painted a dull green or greeny-blue.
- Wallpaper – is key. The originals used vegetable dyes and wood blocks. Today, there are literally hundreds of original William Morris designs still being manufactured by the major companies. Choose large-scale patterns with repeats. The firm Sanderson bought all the original printing blocks from Morris’s firm when it closed down.
- Fireplaces – If you have an original arts and crafts house, the fireplace probably still dominates the room. They had huge wide hearths set in an inglenook or recess. The mantelpiece was carved, often with a motto above it.
- Tiles – very similar to art nouveau ones but with brighter colours – cobalt blue, turquoise, greens and reds. Typical motifs include galleons and stylised flowers. They can still be picked up in salvage yards today or reproductions are available
- The Orient – add a touch of the Orient by adding blue and white china, palm leaf fans, screens, and oriental rugs.
- Stained glass – this was very popular, because of its medieval feel. Enlist a stained glass designer or if you just want a feel for it, try painting your own with some of the many glass paints around.
- Curtains and curtain poles – put up plain wooden or brass curtain poles. Curtains shouldn’t have any frills or flounces.
- Lighting – plain wall sconces are best for lighting.
- Flowers – decorate using simple flower arrangements or a potted house palm.
- Abide by William Morris’ s belief, ‘ Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.
What to invest in
- anything with the label Morris & Co (George Jack was one of its principal designers), Hukin & Heath, or Mappin & Webb
- CFA Voysey textiles – similar to Morris but slightly more stylised
Where to see it
- Kelmscott House, London W6 – The William Morris Society’s HQ
- William Morris Gallery, London – where he lived, now a museum
- Leighton House Museum, London
- Hampstead Garden Suburb and Bedford Park, London – built by Richard Norman Shaw
- Standen, East Grinstead, West Sussex – decorated throughout in William Morris. Tel: 01342 323029