Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ideas on Film

Over the past few months, I have had several visitors tell me that my bedroom reminds them of Hogwart’s Gryffindor house from the Harry Potter movies. I suppose I can see the resemblance..... dark wood canopied bed, aged honey colour walls, scarlet velvet upholstery, antique leather chairs, large oil paintings, and floral linen everywhere. No doubt Master Potter would indeed feel at home. I know I do.
Although I created my bedroom with no thought in my head about Harry Potter, there have been many rooms from film that have influenced me greatly over the years. In fact, I often go to the movies just to see the sets.
Here are ten of my most inspirational films.
See if you agree, and please share some of your favourites!

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, 1947
With or without a ghost, Mrs. Muir’s, Gull Cottage, has to be the most wonderful seaside dwelling imaginable. I remember seeing this movie for the first time when I was a little girl and, even then, I was totally captivated with the thoughts of how I would decorate this amazing place if only it were mine. That bedroom of Lucy’s, upstairs with the landing that opened out to the sea! That sitting room with the large window! Even the big utilitarian kitchen was charming... the perfect place to heat the water for your hot water bottle whilst a ghost peers over your shoulder. I’ve always thought she should have kept the the Captain’s monkey puzzle tree, however.

The Philadephia Story, 1940
Who wouldn’t want to spend a lazy afternoon in Tracy Lord’s south parlor? That gracious floral upholstery, the gargantuan vases of flowers, the sparkling windows overlooking the gardens. I can almost smell the fragrance of old roses wafting in on the breeze. Even in black and white, or maybe especially in black and white, this movie captured the idealized image of the perfect American house in the 1930’s.
And Cary Grant was pretty ideal himself.

Practical Magic, 1998
Oh, you can just give me this whole house. What a place! Perched on a ocean bluff, this Victorian gem is like something out of a dream. And that kitchen! Be still my heart. All in creams and warm woods, with a big, fat Aga and high trussed ceilings. I am not sure how Practical it would be, but I have no quarrel with the Magic part.

Out of Africa, 1985
“I had a farm in Africa”, said Karen Blixen.... and boy, did she. This African farmhouse should have been credited as one of the stars of this grand movie. I adored it. In fact, so besotted was I with the floral upholstery in the sitting room that several years later, when I began decorating professionally, I was given the delightful task of totally doing over a charming house for an older lady who had just come into a generous inheritance. She wanted a “pretty” house, and I knew just which fabric to use! I tracked down the very linen floral that was used in the movie and did her entire bedroom in it. She was thrilled, and so was I.

The Uninvited, 1944
From the moment Ruth Hussey and Ray Milland, playing sister and brother, stumble on the mysterious, abandoned Windward House perched high on a rocky Cornish bluff in this delightfully spooky ghost story, I was hooked. To have the opportunity to bring this wonderful house back to life would have been worth facing down its rather malevolent ghost. Maybe.

Bringing Up Baby, 1938
There is a charming
inn on an estate in Essex, Massachusetts, sumptuously decorated and surrounded by lilac bushes. I stayed there one May when those lilacs were in bloom and there was still a nip in the New England air. When I walked in, I recognized the design of the front lobby immediately. With an book-lined alcove around the fireplace, it was almost identical to Aunt Elizabeth’s country cottage in Bringing Up Baby. A fabulous movie house, preferably sans leopard.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995
The Dashwood sisters feel quite deprived having to leave their grand family estate of Norland Park and relocate to their donated cottage in Devonshire, but to me, this was the better abode by far. Perched on a bucolic hill, this lovely cottage had a heart-stopping view and interiors almost Swedish in style, with faded blues and greys. Charming.

Gigi, 1958
When I was very little I remember watching this movie on television and being swept away by Gigi’s dramatic red apartment. I thought it was the most extravagant place I’d ever seen. With large windows opening out onto turn of the century Paris, and those scarlet walls! It seems Gigi’s grandmother, (played by the equally extravagant Hermione Gingold....who better?) was forever in the kitchen creating cassoulets. I was entranced.

Swiss Family Robinson, 1960
How the Robinson’s treehouse captured my little girl dreams and shook them till all sorts of colour flew round my head! It taught me that the most vital ingredient in any good design is imagination. Just imagine having a multi-storied home in the trees, complete with an organ!

Holiday, 1938
Upstairs in the great mansion of the Seton family, there is a room untouched by time. It was the children’s playroom, with a roaring fireplace, cushy upholstery, faded rugs and books everywhere. It is the room where the characters played by Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant find comfort and solace and I have always understood why.

What houses from the movies have inspired you? Do share!