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How to Create a Bloomsbury Inspired Interior


It is no secret that here in the design studio, we have long been inspired by the work and creativity of the Bloomsbury Group, a set of artists and intellectuals, including Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who lived and worked in Bloomsbury in central London during the early 20th century. The group believed in creativity, innovation and beauty but it is their sense of fun and freedom that we are most drawn to.

Our Charlotte Street Hotel sits in the heart of Bloomsbury and the interiors for the hotel make specific reference to the Bloomsbury Set. Below we have pulled out the best way to take inspiration from this fascinating group of artists and create a Bloomsbury interior of your own.

The Studio by Tony Tree

Inspirational places

When creating your own Bloomsbury inspired interior, it is well worth seeking influence, and what better place to start than the Charleston Farmhouse where the group’s interior style can be most distinctly seen.

Vanessa Bell, with artists Duncan Grant and Roger Fry, wanted art to be democratic and thought that furniture, ceramics and textiles should be given as much attention as fine art. So they filled their home with beautiful things and painted every surface.

At Charlotte Street Hotel, the Bloomsbury group is an integral theme. The guest areas feature original artworks and rooms dedicated to Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

The third place to draw your Bloomsbury inspiration is Monk’s House, where the spirit of not only Virginia Woolf, but of the Bloomsbury Group and the many artists, writers and thinkers who visited, fills the rooms.

Colour Palette

The Bloomsbury Group truly loved colour. Their interiors and paintings are a riot of dusky blues, artichoke greens, damask rose, burnt orange and aubergine. It is a totally unique colour palette that can be both moody and uplifting. Annie Sloan, the chalk paint specialist, has collaborated with the Charleston Trust to create a unique range of paint colours that are inspired by this distinctive palette.

If it is fabrics you’re looking for, look no further than the Drawing Room and Library at Charlotte Street Hotel.

The curtains are made up in Duncan Grant’s ‘Queen Mary’ fabric, which was intended for use in Queen Mary’s First Class Lounge in 1935. This is available exclusively from Charleston’s shop, along with a range of original Bloomsbury fabric designs.

Sydney based fabric house EDIT, offer a selection of incredibly colourful and vibrant fabrics that take the Bloomsbury aesthetic into the 21st century. We’ve used their ‘Harlequin’ fabric on an occasional chair which sits below a painting by Roger Fry.

We have also used EDIT’s ‘Vanessa Bloom’ – named after Vanessa Bell, on a comfortable fireside armchair in the Drawing Room. This fabric evokes the spirit of the Bloomsbury Group with forest greens and pink and blue florals.

Design details

Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant designed their interiors to express their creativity, using a room like an artist’s canvas. A great way to update a room is to paint the furniture in it. The Bloomsbury Set loved doing just this, salvaging most of their items by painting them.

Furniture wasn’t just painted one colour of course; much of it was decorated with beautiful motifs and patterns. At Charlotte Street Hotel, there is a small desk hand painted by The Omega Workshop.

This unconventional group of artists had an eclectic set of influences. Cubist design would sit next to Italian frescoes, while neo-classical pieces would rest against English Arts & Crafts designs. Take inspiration in your own home by mixing styles and displaying things you find beautiful.

In the Library at Charlotte Street Hotel, Vanessa Bell’s painted panels set the mood, along with a wing chair covered in a modern Bloomsbury-inspired fabric.

Image 1: Duncan Grant's Studio, Tony Tree

It is also worth discovering something new at the Charleston workshops, like block printing with Molly Mahon or painting lampshades, in true Bloomsbury style with Cressida Bell.

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