Creating chalet chic with bobbin furniture

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Where has bobbin furniture been all my life?! Although it has been creeping up on my ‘interiors awareness radar’ for a while, it isn’t a style of furniture which has been much celebrated or talked about in recent times. Maybe it doesn’t appeal to everyone and has been regarded as ‘country’ furniture – not worthy of merit. I suspect that it has also been one of the many forgotten about but actually rather gorgeous chair designs (mainly dark wood) which languish in antique shops up and down the country.

Fans on both sides of the pond

The scene is very different on the opposite side of the Atlantic. American interior designers have been using it for quite some time, sprinkling smart/casual decorating schemes with their own statement pieces. It appears everywhere from magazines to Instagram feeds and Pinterest. According to antique sources in London, British pieces  are now being bought up to meet this demand.

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Painted antique bobbin armchair. Image courtesy of Living Simply by Annie.com/Pinterest

The history bit

Bobbin furniture was made as far back as Elizabethan or Jacobean times in England, New England and Holland. Here, the wooden spindles were made by highly skilled independent wood turners or ‘bodgers’. These ‘bodgers’ were free-spirited creatives who camped out in the woods of the Chiltern hills near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. They made their living by whittling spindles of wood with chisels and lathes creating both bobbin furniture as well as the more famous Windsor chair.

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Antique bobbin bench, HoweLondon.com who also sell some amazing striped fabrics. Perfect for creating a relaxed look.

Bobbin works best with artisanal textiles

Anne Dubbs, Creative Director and partner of Blithfield & Co (a wallpaper and fabrics company), is based in New York while her business partner and friend Liz Downing splits her time between the UK and the US. The pair opened an office in London in 1997 and I was interested to ask them with their unique perspective of both the UK and the US interior design markets, what their thoughts were on this furniture.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest.  Sorry no original source found.

Peggy Angus Collection

Anne says, “Bobbin furniture works best when it is vintage and paired with lovely artisanal textiles. It is ideal in country houses and cottages and I believe that painted versions of vintage bobbin furniture work best in a scheme.” Blithfield & Co have really many wonderful artisanal fabric designs of their own including the rights to the Peggy Angus Collection (Peggy was fellow student at art school with Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious) which is a favourite of mine.

Why I love bobbin furniture

It is the profile of the spindles which catches my eye, and if I analyse it, there are many things, such as bobble braid trimmings, The White Company’s bestseller Avignon bedlinen collection – even snowballs – which all share the same appealing circular profile. It just creates a quirky dimension and decorative interest to a room. Depending on your scheme, you can either paint it or leave the wood in its natural, honest form (quite often bobbin furniture is made from ebony, a black hardwood or walnut).

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Image courtesy of 4.bp.blogspot.com/Pinterest

Create chalet chic with bobbin furniture

Taking inspiration from ski chalets is a fun hook for designing teenage or guest bedrooms.  You don’t have to go very far off piste to find that there are some really fresh fabric and wallpaper designs to help create the look. Just add in lots of texture by way of wood panelling, knitted throws, checked or striped dhurries and antler lighting (thank you Next for making their faux antler lighting at such accessible prices – just wish they did an 8 light version!)

Bobbin along with an alpine backdrop

I love this scheme by Sabbe Interior Design in Nashville. You could set your own alpine chalet scene by looking out for vintage alpine oil paintings and old school trunks in junk/antique shops and on Ebay.

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Image courtesy of Sabbe Interior Design/Pinterest

Chalet chic mood board

Take a mid century palette of primary colours to create a nostalgic chalet style.

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Ski chalet mood board: Pierre Frey, Zimmer & Rohde, Zoe Glencross, Barneby Gates. Styling and photo: Charis White
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Les 3 Vallees, F2610 Original 1, fabric, Pierre Frey
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Robin 18 10050 395, fabric, Etamine by Zimmer & Rohde
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Chevron wallpaper, BG1400201/Ink Blue, Barneby Gates
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Berger 19402 892 wool embroidered fabric, Etamine by Zimmer & Rohde
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Grand Edelweiss F2755001 Multicolore fabric, Pierre Frey
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Slade Stripe, Code: A-SSISN, Inky Sky on Natural linen, Zoe Glencross fabric and home

Bob sleighs

These images are from the US but bobbin beds such as these do come up on Ebay in the UK occasionally – I rue the day that I didn’t bid on a vintage double bed which I saw only a few months ago, it went for £140.

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Room designed by Joe Lucas. Image courtesy of Architectural Digest/Pinterest.
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Reproduction bobbin bed available in the U.S. from Serena and Lilly.com  
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Room designed by Phoebe Howard in the U.S. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

The Beautiful Bed Company in Los Angeles (IG @beautifulbedcompany) manufacture some lovely new versions of a bobbin bed design which they call spindle or spool designs. Funnily enough, the company is run by Lisa Faulkner who is originally from the UK and whose family made Chesterfield sofas.

Bobbin up and down the UK

There are those in the know in the UK, they include several interior design companies and antique dealers. A handful of these companies are either manufacturing new upmarket bobbin furniture (Clockhouse Furniture in the Scottish borders, Julian Chichester in London), or selling antique: Gear Antiques, Lorfords Antiques,  Nimmo & Spooner, Sybil Colefax & John Fowler and Howe (who both make new and sell antique). Are we set to see more do you think? Will it filter through to the high street? I am not sure if OKA have ever had a go at producing any but it could be a good one for them (and us!)

Bobbin furniture for sale at White Vintage

In the meantime, if you are interested in a couple of vintage and antique bobbin corner chairs, they are for sale. Hoorah! If you would like prices, please contact me.

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Ebony early 20th Century bobbin corner chair with cane seat: Seat height from floor, 35 cm x 40 cm square x 64 cm chair height.
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Dark wood (walnut?), early 19th Century bobbin corner chair with brass pyramid studs: Woven rush seat height from floor, 35 cm x 43 cm square x 65 cm chair height.

Thank you so much for reading! If you are interested in getting some help with styling a room in Chalet style with bobbin furniture, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Charis x

Charis White, interior stylist
Charis White – interior stylist/writer and blogger

 

 

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