Progress on my 1930s Lounge

I’m not going to sit here and have a moan, but let me tell you, I’ve had the week from hell! Over the past seven days a lot of things I rely on every day have broken down, including my car and my computer. The car is now fixed, thankfully, and the latter is on it’s way over to my brother, who is an expert in these things, so hopefully he will be able to get it fixed and quickly. However, it does mean for the minute I cannot use my camera as I cannot get the photos from it on to any other device. So, I apologise for the not-so-great mobile phone photos in this post.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts here and here that I’m in the process of redesigning my lounge in a 1930s style. Things are now coming along nicely, so I thought I’d do a progress update. I’ve purchased three pieces of beautiful 1930s walnut furniture, but still on the hunt for two more. Of course, they’re not the easiest pieces to find if you’re looking for something very specific and at a specific size. What I’m after is a small narrow unit for my TV to go on and some kind of storage piece, a bookcase or cupboard, to go under the stairs. I’ll save the big reveal of the furniture when the lounge is finally complete.

1930s reupholstered chair

However, I am dying to show you my beautiful chair! This started off as a really cheap chair, found in a charity shop warehouse and only costing £15. You can see what it originally looked like at the bottom of this post. However, by the time it came back to me looking as pretty as it does, it ended up costing me a whopping total of £320!!!!

On top of the cost of the chair, the fabric cost £225 and the upholstery cost £160. The fabric, which I bought from Loome Fabrics, cost so much because I had it treated for flame retardancy. Due to the age of the chair, this is a must to make sure it’s protected in case of fire. I did, however, recoup £80 because I bought too much of the fabric, so the couple I often buy my 1930s pieces from bought it from me to cover some dining chairs.  The upholstery cost £65 more than expected because the upholsterer recommended replacing the stuffing which had become quite lumpy and was making the seat sag. I decided that, as I was spending so much on it anyway, I might as well get it done properly.

1930s chair curved arm

Before the work could start, however, the wood sections needed to be stripped and revarnished. The original wood was varnished with a lighter, slightly orange colour and it looked way too mid-century. My dad very kindly sanded this away and then I spent a bit of time revarnishing it to a colour that matched the walnut furniture.

I am so pleased with how it’s turned out and absolutely love looking at it and sitting in it. It’s got such a 1930s vibe with the big curved arms and Art Deco velvet fabric. The colour works beautifully in the room, especially as the magnolia walls have been replaced by a much more period authentic stone/biscuit colour.

Edinburgh book of home upholstery, 1937

In the first photo you can just about see the new curtains I’ve made over the last month. It took me quite some time to do these as there were two sets to be done and they’re full length, right to the floor. I’m yet to hem them due to the fact that I will be replacing the makeshift curtain poles (the previous owner left with hers despite telling me she’d leave them!) with curtain tracks. I am then going to make a pelmet to sit at the top of each set of curtains.

The instructions I’m going to use for the pelmets are from this wonderful little book. I bought it on eBay over Christmas for £7. It’s from 1937 and the image on the front cover just screams 1930s cosy lounge. The instructions inside explain how to make everything on the cover, so there’s so many wonderful crafts to read about. The pelmet is exactly what I had in my head for my pelmets, so I will be following the instructions very carefully whilst doing mine.

Edinburgh book of home upholstery, 1937

The first page of the book has this lovely message from the Principal at Edinburgh College of Domestic Science, which is what this book was written for. Having looked her up online I have found that she was Principal between 1932 and 1960 and received an OBE, which I assume was for her work at the school. The college was situated at 5 Atholl Crescent in Edinburgh but, not surprisingly, doesn’t exist anymore, instead it was swallowed up into what is now known as Queen Margaret University. 5 Atholl Crescent is now home to a law firm.

1930s pelmets

And this is the page with the gorgeous curtain pelmets diagrams on. No.1 is the style I am going for and I’m making it in the same stone coloured fabric as the curtains and trimming it with the cornflower blue I also used. I’d love to do something like Myrna Loy’s curtains in The Thin Man, which you can see here, but I’m not sure I’d get it that neat!

1930s chrome lamp

Lastly, I thought I’d show you a few bits I’ve managed to pick up recently at antiques fairs and flea markets for the lounge. I’ve been after a 1930s chrome lamp for ages but could never quite find one that I liked or was within my price range. This one, however, caught my eye immediately. I love the fact that the barley twist design isn’t just in the lamp but is also in the lampshade too. It’s been fully rewired and was a really good price of £70. I’ve seen them at more than double that!

The blue glass bowl was a total bargain at just £2! The lady selling it thought that it was damaged so marked it down so low, however, I’ve been over it three times and I can’t see anything wrong with it. I believe it’s a Stölzle piece due to the clarity of the glass and the design of the bowl. I have a green one that’s similar, although the design is a little different, and that I know is a Stölzle.

1930s glass lampshade

I’ve also managed to find a 1930s glass lampshade that I like, which is in mint green to match the chair and isn’t too big. I have a Georgian cottage, which was built in the 1820s, and it has quite low ceilings. Therefore, the classic 1930s glass bowl lampshades that hang on chains are just too low for my house, even I would bang my head on them and I’m only 5ft 3! So instead I was wanting something that was bigger than a shade for a table lamp but wasn’t too big in height and this fits the bill perfectly. I paid just £8 for this, so it was a good buy.

Bakelite light fitting

And lastly, I have purchased these three pieces to replace the horrid modern white plastic ceiling pendant. The rose and bulb holder are original Bakelite and the wiring is new but looks old. Now all I need to do is find an electrician to put it up for me! My dad did look at it but, as this is not a direct replacement for the modern one and needs a junction put in, he wasn’t confident enough to do it.

So, there’s not a great deal left to do, however, I’m not going to do the big reveal of the whole room until I’m totally happy with it. The last bits of Ikea furniture especially need to go, so until I find replacements it won’t happen. I’m really pleased, though, that I’m sticking to my vow of only buying vintage, secondhand or handmade. Obviously the fabrics I’ve bought are new but there was no way I was going to find vintage or secondhand pieces that would fit the bill, particularly as I needed so much of each one. And both the curtains and the reupholstery was done by hand, so they still count! 🙂



Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


  1. Cate, your lounge is going to be fantastic! Oh goodness, such care being taken, it’s going to be so cozy. I need to get around to making curtains for my room and making it a more loving space.
    Don’t be surprised if a short American shows up and says hey, haha!

    • Oh thank you Carla! You’re very welcome to pop by any time and say hey, I’d love it! xx

  2. I am really very excited to see the finished room. You have wonderful taste, and are paying such attention to detail. It will all pay off I’m sure! I am looking at modern light fittings in my house now and mentally replacing them…

    • Thank you Sarah! I’m very much someone who can’t help but pay attention to details, I’m like it in everything in my life. It does mean it takes me way longer to do something than it should, but sometimes I think it’s worth it. It does drive me mad at times though, especially when it’s just not necessary. xx

  3. I love that chair it is so lovely. I can’t to see the complete project. Good luck with the computer. I hope your brother can fix it. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Thanks Marilyn! it might be a long while yet before it’s all done but I will defintiely be sharing the results on the blog as soon as it is. There’s not much left to do, it’s just about finding just the right pieces. xx

    • Thanks Kate! These last 10 days have just been so rubbish, hopefully things are will get better soon. xx

  4. Judging from what you are showing us, your lounge is going to look fantastic. That chair was definitely worth the expense. The chrome lamp is a great find, and so is the 1930s glass lampshade, which is such a gorgeous colour. xxx

    • Thanks Ann! Yes, I definitely think it was worth spending that money on the chair. Thankfully I paid each part separately so I had the chance to save up for it each time! xx

  5. These are all fab finds.

    I live in the Edinburgh New Town and was reading about the Domestic Science College on the local newspaper’s website recently. I pass through Atholl Crescent every day on my way to work. It’s a lovely part of town. Ebay always has a few of their recipe books for sale.

    • Oh wow, I bet it’s lovely to walk past there and think about what it used to be. I bet the people working there now don’t appreciate the beautiful history of the building.

  6. Ouch to the price but Wow! how amazing does the chair look?

    • I know, but it was definitely worth it. I would much rather spend extra and get a job done well, and as I want it, than go cheap and end up hating it. I know I will love and cherish this chair for years to come, so it doesn’t really bother me. xx

  7. There must be something in the air; I’ve had several appliances die on me recently, plus a socket produce a big flash and a crackling sound!

    All your pieces are lovely, but the chair is just amazing.

    My mum remembers the cookery school at Atholl Place, but I’ve never heard her mention there being other domestic science there – that was news to me!

  8. Really impressive that you are going to follow instructions from the Edinburgh Book to make the curtain pelmets. Definitely looking forward to reading about that in a future blog. Great project!

    • Oh yes, I always like to do things authentically and one thing I do find with 1930s crafting is that is actually much more simple than what would be expected today. I don’t know why everything in sewing is so over complicated now. xx

  9. Your chair was well worth the money spent, it looks lovely. Look forward to seeing the finished project. Good things take time 🙂
    Hope your luck turns around the coming days!

    • Thanks Sonjya! Oh, I totally agree, good things do take time and it’s always worth not rushing into things and ending up not being happy with it. You only end up hating to start all over again at a later date. xx

  10. I like the chair. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished room, it’s an adventurous project. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

    • Whenever I do any interior design in my house it’s like this. I love to search out the perfect pieces and bring the whole thing together. It makes it so much more fun than just picking out a room set in a catalogue. xx

  11. I am so excited to see this come together! The chair turned out super lovely, the shades of green in the fabric and the lovely lamp you found are so perfectly deco wonderful. I love decorating, I can’t wait to have my own home/space someday to decorate to my hearts content!

    • Thanks Bianca! Yes, I couldn’t believe it when I spotted that lamp, it was exactly what i was looking for and the price was so good. It was destined to be mine! xx

  12. 1930’s Green lamp shade is a great find, the colour is just perfect. I also really like your new chair, you did a great job.
    Sorry to hear that your week was crummy, hopefully it has turned around for you 🙂

    • Thanks Liz! Yes, touch wood, my run of bad luck has dispersed. I’m still waiting on whether my computer is totally dead or can actually be rescued, but either way it’s not the end of the world. xx

  13. Aaah, I’m so looking forward to seeing what your room looks like when it’s finished. And I reckon it’s worth spending the money on furniture if it means you’re getting exactly what you want, and will love it for years to come. (We’ve got a leather sofa being made for us right now, and I’m so excited.) I hope your lovely chair makes up at least a little for the week from hell.

    • Totally agree Mim! I’d much rather spend that little bit extra and enjoy it for many years, rather than going cheap and never quite being happy with it or worse still, having it fall apart on you. Can’t wait to see your sofa. I love my leather one! xx

  14. All these lovely glimpses are so tantalising! Your lounge is going to be fabulous. The chair looks very inviting. I think it was worth the money to get it down properly and have it last a long time. Love the glass lampshade and the table lamp too. Hope the car and computer are sorted out now.

    • Thanks Kate-Em! The car is sorted, although it worries me driving it now as there was no explanation of why it happened and I’m scared it will happen again. The computer is dead, well, the hard drive is, so what I don’t have backed up is gone 🙁 xx

  15. Love your chair, it is gorgeous and that green glass lampshade, well it’s going to be perfect with your chair! 1930’s greens are the best. Sorry to hear about the week from hell. My sweet Granny always said, “When it rains, it pours”. Hope the rain has stopped!

    • Yes, the 1930s had some really gorgeous greens. You just can’t seem to find them now in anything, it drives me mad. I’m looking for nile green towels at the moment which are virtually impossible to find. xx

  16. Hi Cate, I know it’s too late as you have found your curtain fabric but I am also looking for an art deco style fabric and found a great online shop ( where I bought the last remnant of brockhall in black..however they still have it in blue or orange and it’s half price! It’s a similar pattern to your lovely chair. Search ‘velvet’ and you will find it.
    Louise ☺

    • Oh, thanks for sharing this, although now I wish I’d waited. No, no, I love my curtains, I don’t need to buy more fabric and make new ones, honest! 🙂

  17. I keep coming back to this post to look at that gorgeous blue bowl. Luckily I happened upon the same design while obsessively browsing art deco glassware on ebay and bought a whole set of green ones! It looks like it is Stolle Niemen from the 1920s (you can look it up on Pinterest or ebay).

    • Yes, that blue bowl is so gorgeous. I do have a green one that’s a slightly different design but equally as lovely. That one is by Stölzle and is pattern number 19678 but is missing its plinth. I did spot one at a flea market but prefer the bowl with out. The set you bought, was it a large bowl and lots of little ones all in the same design? Those sets were used for fruit salad.

      • Yes, it is one of the fruit bowl sets. I will probably just use it for display though, especially since I recently found out an old teacup I had was worth quite a bit of money after it got broken!

  18. Inspirational! Found your web-site while looking for wooden pelmet designs to complete my Art Deco ‘snug’. Enjoying exploring the links and nice to find I am not alone in loving the published design suggestions of the period

    • Thank you Heidi and I’m glad you found my blog. I’m currently in the middle of making my pelmets, which have ended up being made completely differently to how I initially thought of doing them. However, they are going to be more secure, which is the main thing.

Comments are closed.