“Get rid of the chintz!”. In 1996, the women featured in an IKEA advert created for the British market chanted this motto as they ripped off their flowered curtains, threw away their fringed lampshades and, finally, got rid of all those decorative elements that one associated with the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher. Seconds before throwing a crocheted doily out of the window like a frisbee, they would roll up an old rug: at the end of the ad, the bedroom carpets had also disappeared and the group of women celebrated the arrival of the era of uncluttered interiors and simple “Scandinavian” in the living room of a house with polished maple wood floors.
Born in the late 1980s, British designer Jermaine Gallacher grew up in uncarpeted Britain and has made it as a furniture dealer in a slatted-floor London gallery. However, he recently had his own decorative awakening from him. Last April, Gallacher rebelled against bare wooden floors and decided to paint the one in his London office. The designer applied a layer of black paint over a yellow one, and, while it was still wet, he scratched the surface to create one of his signature zigzag patterns. “I wouldn’t say hardwood floors are dead, but I do think they are a bit boring. People ignore floors when decorating their houses and they are actually just as important as the color of the walls. There is a trend towards the neutrality of bare wood, when what we really need underfoot is a big coat of paint in a bright and bold colour”, the designer says by email. “Why not take the plunge with a hand-painted effect or a geometric pattern? Also, the busiest areas of a house are not the best place for a rug.”
According to the designer, the idea of painting his office instead of carpeting or carpeting it as might be expected of him (Jermaine Gallacher has designed several rugs and in one of his latest interior design projects he has used a striking Nazarene-colored carpet) he gave it to him. He gave the reading of the manual of decorative painting paint magica best-seller British painting of the eighties in which its author, Jocasta Innes, defended that techniques such as stenciling constituted an excellent alternative to decorate the floors of a house. Innes argued that floors are “rarely good enough to be left as is” and “carpeting is expensive” and she explained to her readers different processes for painting them at home. Readers shouldn’t worry if the finish wasn’t perfect and the paint left some of the wood showing: according to Innes, this made the floors feel more homey and welcoming. Today, that “do it yourself” spirit is back in vogue and the best-known decoration magazines have been proposing painting as an economical and entertaining way to decorate floors for a couple of years.
The remedy is not exactly new. Eighteenth-century Swedes used to paint the wooden floors of their houses to look like marble like those in Italian palaces, too cold for their homes, while American colonists stencilled those in their New England country houses to simulate rugs and rugs because of how expensive it was to import the real ones from Europe. Time gradually peeled off the layers of paint from most of these historic floors, but during the second half of the 20th century decorators such as Paul Leonard or Mario Buatta, “the prince of chintz”, they opted again for painted floors. Then came another way of understanding the rustic and the Scandinavian.
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