Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Downton Abbey: The Drawing Room [Get that look]

Over the last four weeks, I've been riveted to the tv set watching Downton Abbey on PBS. I wrote more about it on ::Silver Screen Surroundings::, but wanted to share some detail shots and shopping ideas for getting the look of the incredibly gorgeous drawing room.

The series is set in post Edwardian (1901-1910) England and begins in 1912. The series was shot at Highclere Castle in Newbury, which is part of Hampshire, England. Highclere, like many stately homes in England, is open to the public for events like weddings and for movie filming. It was previously used for the Hallmark Hall of Fame's The Secret Garden, the movie Eyes Wide Shut and reportedly Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In those movies, the castle is used as a dark and foreboding place. However, in Downton Abbey, it's depicted as a warm and inviting family home. As a matter of fact, the series took full advantage of the existing decor, much of which is appropriate to 100 years ago. The images above are from Highclere Castle's website and shows a room that is substantially the same as the room shown in the movie. There are a few differences, such as the rug and lamps. Even the window treatments are the same.  As would have been in the case 100 years ago as it is today, homes of this type would feature beautiful furnishings from many different eras and nationalities. There is a mix of English, French and Italian furnishings which pulls together for an incredibly beautiful and feminine room.

In the scene above, Elizabeth McGovern (Cora, Countess of Grantham) and Hugh Bonneville (Robert, the Earl of Grantham) carry on a conversation. The set decorators have clevery incorporated some post Victorian era touches such as the fringed piano shawl and lampshades.

19th c. Louis XV gilded armchairs at 1st Dibs

Dame Maggie Smith (The Dowager Countess of Grantham) paying a call.

French 19th C Louis XV style commode at Jans Antiques

French Mahogany side table circa 1830 at Trianon Antiques

Antique 19th C French Aubusson at 1st Dibs

19th Century French needlepoint pillow at 1st Dibs

The two Countesses have a meeting of the minds in the drawing room

The Dowager Countess feels blinded by the electrified chandelier.

French 20th century chandelier by Maison Bagues via Trianon Antiques

The youngest sister and budding feminist , Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) models her new harem style outfit, much to the shock/surprise/amusement of her family.

Reaction montage courtesy of Vic of Jane Austen's World - an amazing resource for Janeites and fans of historical drama.

Hugh Bonneville (Robert, Earl of Grantham) looking dapper by the fireplace (btw - he played the sad/silly banker friend of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, amazing transformation!)

French Cassolette's circa 19th century via Trianon Antiques

Of course, the architecture, gilded millwork and silk damask wallpaper really is the icing on the top of this fantasy room.

Tea anyone?

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks!

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Teresa at Splendid Sass said...

This is such a beautiful post. I especially love the chandeliers, which I seem to be obsessed with lately.
Hope that your week is going well.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

And the clothes!
My soul. The clothes!

Brillante Interiors said...

I missed this series, I will search to see if it is still on here. Fantastic post, I enjoyed every image and every word. What a dream.

Gracefully Vintage said...

Thanks for Sharing, I love the over the top grandeur of the French Style-
As im re-decorating my home- im trying to incorporate my loves of the vintage french style -but comfy for 3 kids-hubby and a dog- and similar to Ballard Designs style..
ANy photots you can post help tremendously..
NEW Follower- ill be back for more inspiration

John Kelsey said...

Linda, Beautiful! I LOVE it! Do you "rewind the tape" to look at a room or a piece of furniture, too? While you've been watching Downton Abby, Sally and I have been watching our cd set of Brideshead Revisited. We're always rewinding to look at a room, some door hardware, a piece of furniture. (The story is terrific, too!) It is hard to imagine that people actually built and lived in homes like these. I'm in awe!

decoro creativity said...

I have been in the grounds but not inside the castle. Lovely to so many pics and reminders of when I use to live in Newbury (btw a minute niggle point the castle is in Highclere Hampshire, near to Newbury which is in Berkshire:) )

Katherine @ design4seasons said...

Linda, I have been glued to Downton Abbey myself! I love the intrigue of the upstairs and downstairs. What's not to love? The cast of characters is incredible & the casting superb... Hugh Bonnevilles's Lord Grantham is so aristocratic while at the same time kind & warm: Lady Cora is smart & sassy but chic... and always looks so beautiful in the most incredible clothes; the Dowager is a hoot... she has become surprisingly open to new ideas & shown another side (she didn't even insist on winning in the flower show!). I can't help but wonder how (or if) O'Brien can live with herself? Anyway, the interiors of this home are spectacular... thanks for all of the behind the scenes scoop on the site of the series. I am thrilled that there is another installment in the works!!! (And I have also been looking back at Brideshead like John & Sally!)

Joseph said...

This is an interesting article. The furniture is not to my tastes (I prefer Shaker), but as a woodworker I find it fascinating because I know what goes into the making of a piece like the commodes and chairs you featured. Which is to say, considerably more talent that I have! I know a guy here in the San Diego area who actually makes pieces like this, and also incredibly elaborate marquetry pieces, some of which have as many as 6000 individual pieces.

He insists on doing all of his work the old way, with hand tools only, just as the people who made these pieces did several centuries ago. Some of his pieces take him as long as two years to make. When you visit his shop the only sound is classical music and the gentle sound of hand tools. A wood plane makes the most satisfying sound as it slices off wood shavings.

This guy is so driven to succeed at this that he actually went to Paris and took three years of classes there so he could learn how to build a hand-driven scroll saw. The blades on this saw are so fine they are really not much more than wires with teeth cut into one side. You have to feel for the teeth when you attach them to the saw so the blade is orientated correctly. He works the old way, making elaborate drawings which are traced onto the various woods he uses. He then decides on which side of the pencil line to cut. Man, if I even hit the line, I feel pretty good about myself!

The finished product is nothing short of amazing, made all the more so, I think, because no power tools were used in the making of it. I was stationed in Germany as a soldier in the early 1960s, and I still remember touring the castle at Kassel. Every doorway had elaborately carved woodwork. The floors were exquisite, and they showed us an elaborate desk complete with secret compartments. It has stayed with me all these years because I know that those who built it in the eighteenth century had no power tools. Those are the people who were wood masters.

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