They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, but our ideas about how to decorate our beloved abodes change over the years.
An interiors magazine recently published a list of the worst design trends — with Seventies waterbeds, avocado bathroom suites and furry loo seat covers among the naffest mod cons. So, should these relics be expunged from British homes simply because interior designers say so? SAMANTHA BRICK spoke to five women proud to be in poor taste . . .
Stuffed stag’s head in the hall
Marjorie Frew, 51, lives in Chiswick, West London, with her husband and their daughter Olivia, 15. Marjorie works for a storage company. She says:
I was disappointed to learn that taxidermy had made it onto the interior designers’ ‘most hated’ list. We absolutely love it, and have no intention of bowing to modern tastes.
We have a stag’s head in our front hall. My husband is Scottish and had always hankered after one. I fobbed him off for years, reminding him we are not owners of a Scottish estate.
But then, nine years ago, we went to live in the U.S. for three years. One afternoon, after a day out skiing in Vermont, he spotted an antiques shop that was full of stag heads.
Marjorie Frew, 51, lives in Chiswick, West London, with her husband and their daughter Olivia, 15. They are proud of the stags head in their property
I found it sad and grisly at first, but when the shop owner explained they were animals that had been responsibly culled to maintain the local population, I could see the sense in that.
And they did look majestic, dramatic and beautiful. A real throwback to a bygone age. Suddenly, I started to see the appeal, too.
We paid $200 for a stag’s head, and christened him George. He is pale brown with a cute white tuft under his chin. He has three points on each antler, soulful eyes and a sweet smile.
When we moved back to the UK, he came with us — at great expense. He has a place of honour in our home in London.
We have a double-height hallway, thankfully, because he is very big.
Quite simply, George is part of the family. Most people who come to the house love him. When we have parties at Christmas, it tickles everyone that he is dressed up with a red nose and Santa hat.
The event of the year for George, though, is Burns Night, when he sports a set of fairy lights in his antlers.
You cannot walk past him without smiling.
If interior designers look down on something as harmless as George, then they need to get a life — and a stag’s head of their own!
Fluffy loo seat cover (and mat)
Camilla Robertson, 35, works in theatre marketing, is single and lives in Brighton. She says: ‘My gran always had a fluffy loo seat cover with a matching mat when I was growing up. Her set was bright green and contrasted perfectly with the beige bathroom suite. That’s why it just seemed natural to me to have one, too.
‘The ones I currently use have an Ancient Greek theme, and the loo seat cover is comfortable to sit on. It is far warmer and more practical than a plastic or wooden cover.
‘Like most women I like to pamper myself after I’ve had a bath. I normally sit on the loo seat while applying moisturiser to my legs. As for the fluffy loo mat, I have lino flooring and my feet would be cold in the middle of the night if I didn’t have anything there to warm my toes.
Camilla Robertson, 35, has a fluffy loo seat cover with a matching mat. She said: ‘The usual snipe at them is about hygiene. But I’m a clean and tidy woman who lives alone, and I wash them every two weeks, so I can’t see a problem’
‘For me the bathroom is somewhere to relax. I don’t like cold, hard surfaces.
‘Admittedly they’re not easy to find on the High Street nowadays — I have to go hunting for mine online.
‘When friends come around they always comment. It’s not something you see in homes today.
‘The usual snipe at them is about hygiene. But I’m a clean and tidy woman who lives alone, and I wash them every two weeks, so I can’t see a problem. If I lived in a house with lots of small boys, my tastes might change quite quickly!
‘I suspect my fluffy loo set will have its moment again soon — everyone loves kitsch, and loo sets like mine definitely fall into that category.’
Avocado bath suite
Vanessa Fairfax-Woods, 37, a senior trader for the food and drinks industry, lives in Shrewsbury. She says: ‘While avocados might be the trendiest food, I appreciate the same cannot be said for my bathroom. This colour suite is usually the first thing housebuyers rip out when they move in. Yet I unashamedly love mine.
‘As soon as I viewed my three-bedroom semi-detached house five years ago, and saw the bathroom, I knew I had to live here. It’s an Art Deco original, with a big bath and a servant bell next to it — unfortunately that no longer works.
Vanessa Fairfax-Woods, 37, loves her Art Deco original design bathroom. She said: ‘As soon as I viewed my three-bedroom semi-detached house five years ago, and saw the bathroom, I knew I had to live here’
‘The walls are lined, floor to ceiling, with avocado tiles and there is a matching sink.
‘I’m someone who doesn’t do showers — for me, a bath is the ultimate form of relaxation, and I spend a lot of time in my bathroom. After a stressful day, I like to jump straight into my avocado tub for 30 minutes. I’ll normally light a scented candle and listen to a radio podcast, too. I’m 5ft 6in and can stretch out without needing to bend my knees!
‘Guests’ reaction is somewhat ‘Marmite’ — they either love it or hate it. People shouldn’t be afraid to follow their instinct and intuition when it comes to how they want to style their homes. What is hated today will be loved again tomorrow.’
The house with four waterbeds
Retired businesswoman Caryl Tandy, 65, and husband Julian have four children and live in Llanelli, Wales. Caryl says: ‘I have four waterbeds at home — one for each bedroom. Quite simply they give you the best night’s sleep of your life.
‘Contrary to popular opinion, sleeping on one isn’t like being on a boat — nor is it a cheesy Del Boy-style seduction tool.
Retired businesswoman Caryl Tandy, 65, has a waterbed for every bedroom in the house. She said: ‘When we have guests, the waterbed is always a talking point’
‘Modern waterbeds, which cost around £1,500, can help with arthritis and muscular problems, keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. I would also argue that they’re good for your marriage — they are split into two separate water compartments so you don’t disturb each other when you move around during the night.
‘When we have guests, the waterbed is always a talking point. Some find it hilarious, but after enjoying a brilliant night’s sleep, they’re usually converts.’
Chintz and floral wallpaper
Sally Grant, 63, a communications consultant, is married to John, 77, a retired businessman. They live in Warwickshire and have two grown-up children. Sally says: ‘Apparently, the decor in my beautiful home is old-fashioned. My reaction is to be utterly unrepentant about my love for floral upholstery and matching William Morris wallpaper.
‘Our home is all bright colours, and I adore it that way. You can never have enough chintz. I don’t like my furniture to fade into the background, either. Our hall has a piano, palms, a Victorian table, a gilt mirror and oil paintings.
‘The wallpaper is pale yellow with a diamond pattern in pink, terracotta and gold. Visitors used to ‘good-taste beige’ take a step back when they walk in.
‘I like to think that my tastes are pre-Raphaelite, although some people have said it feels like stepping into the House of Commons. One friend calls me ‘The Woman Taste Forgot!’
‘Chintz will come back into fashion one day — I’m just ahead of the curve!
Sally Grant, 63, said that you ‘can never have enough chintz’ and does not like her furniture to blend into the background