Mid-Century Modern Design

MidCentury Design Delights at Elmet Farmhouse

Elmet Farmhouse is full of surprises. That’s why our guests enjoy it so much, because every room contains unexpected design delights. Wherever you go, there are inspiring things to look at, not just in the living room but in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms as well.                                                                                                                                                             

Brown Abstract 4
Brown Abstract 1

An intriguing mixture of ancient and modern, the interiors blend original 18th century features with choice vintage and contemporary design. A holiday cottage like no other, Elmet Farmhouse is wonderfully quirky and totally unique.                                                                                                                      

Purple Abstract 2
Purple Abstract 1

Mid-Century Modern Textiles

One of the most popular features at Elmet are the striking vintage fabrics used throughout the farmhouse for curtains, cushions and textile hangings. Specially chosen by design historian Lesley Jackson, who decorated and ‘curated’ the interiors, the fabrics date from the 1950s and 60s, an extremely rich period for textile design.                                                                                                          

Edinburgh Weavers 2
Edinburgh Weavers 3

Highlights include the magnificent Edinburgh Weavers curtains and cushions in the living room, screen-printed  with an arresting large-scale design called Kalabu, dating from the late 1960s. The heavy linen cloth was woven at Edinburgh Weavers’ mill in Carlisle and the fabric was printed in Lancaster by their sister company, Standfast Dyers and Printers, who are still going strong today.                                                                                                            

Joan Charnley 1
Joan Charnley 2

Hanging on the wall in the lounge is a delightful stylised leaf-patterned fabric by Joan Charnley, a local designer who studied at Manchester School of Art and designed for Edinburgh Weavers. Hand screen-printed on rayon by the designer herself, it reflects the early post-war ‘Contemporary’ design aesthetic associated with Lucienne Day.                                                                                                    

Hull Traders 1
Hull Traders 2

Upstairs in the front bedroom are some beautiful chintz curtains hand screen-printed by Hull Traders, an outstanding local company based less than 20 miles away at Trawden, near Colne. The pattern is called Rose Branch and was designed by Guy Irwin in 1958.                                                                                                                                                             

David Whitehead 2
David Whitehead 1

The deer and leaf-patterned printed fabric hanging on the wall in the front bedroom is by David Whitehead, another important Lancashire firm based not far away at Rawtenstall. Designed by Cawthra Mulock in 1955,  it epitomises the vibrant colours and dynamic graphic style of the post-war era.                                                                                                                                                                                   

Tibor Raw Coral 1
Tibor Mexico 1

Elmet Farmhouse features two impressive ‘Textureprints’  by Hungarian-born textile designer Tibor Reich, produced in the mid 1950s for his company Tibor. A long length of Coral, a striking black and grey design with overlapping organic motifs, hangs in the attic stairwell.                                                                                                                           

Tibor Raw Coral 2
F Bathroom 2

Some of these textiles are available to buy through our Etsy shop: MidcenturyFabrics. To visit the shop and see the current catalogue, click here                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Mid-Century Modern Furniture                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Elmet Farmhouse also contains a fine collection of MidCentury Modern furniture. Ercol – one of the leading British furniture manufacturers of the post-war period – features prominently. There’s a comfortable armchair from Ercol’s Windsor Contemporary range next to the fireplace in the living room. An Ercol classic dating from 1953, the 203 Bergere Easy Chair was specially re-upholstered at the Ercol factory in Buckinghamshire, which is still going strong today.                                                                                                                                                                                                

Upstairs in the bedrooms and bathrooms are two more Ercol icons, the 369 Goldsmith’s Dining Chair and the 400 Chair, dating from 1957-58. Made from a combination of beech and elm, both have the familiar Ercol stick backs, inspired by traditional Windsor chairs. The 400 Chair, a descendant of Ercol’s legendary 4A Chair developed for the Utility furniture scheme during the Second World War, features Ercol’s trademark steam-bent bow frame.                                                                                                                                                                              

Elmet Farmhouse also contains some choice pieces of Scandinavian Modern furniture in warm-coloured natural wood. The beech-framed stick-back Kadett Sofa in the living room is by O&M Design for the Danish firm Skippers Mobler. This piece dates from the 1990s but was inspired by Borge Mogensen’s Spokeback Sofa, conceived in 1945.                                                                                                                                                                                        

The stylish Arild Sideboard was designed by Nils Jonsson for the Swedish firm Troeds in 1961. Made of teak, the sleek form of this long low credenza displays the clean lines of post-war Modernist design. It is complemented by the light oak wall cabinet in the opposite corner of the room. Made by the Danish company Faarup Mobler, it was designed the architect Ib Kofod Larsen, who also did freelance work for the G-Plan in the 1960s.                                                                                                                                                                                                

All the natural beech cupboards, draw units and bookcases in the bedrooms and attic shower room are also Danish. The multi-coloured Chest of Drawers in the attic was designed by Frank Guille for Austinsuite in the 1960s. This piece has been upcycled by a vintage furniture dealer, each drawer painted a different colour, which is rather fun.  

Many of the designers and manufacturers displayed in Elmet Farmhouse are featured in Lesley Jackson’s books on post-war textiles, furniture and design. You can peruse these publications in Elmet’s library during your stay and some are available to buy.

20th Century Pattern Design: Textile and Wallpaper Pioneers by Lesley Jackson (Mitchell Beazley)

Alastair Morton and Edinburgh Weavers: Visionary Textiles and Modern Art by Lesley Jackson (V&A Publishing)

Shirley Craven and Hull Traders: Revolutionary Fabrics and Furniture 1957-1980 by Lesley Jackson (Antique Collectors’ Club)

Robin and Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Contemporary Design by Lesley Jackson (Mitchell Beazley)

Ercol: Furniture in the Making by Lesley Jackson (Richard Dennis Publications)

Modern British Furniture: Design Since 1945 by Lesley Jackson (V&A Publishing)

‘Contemporary’ Architecture and Interiors of the 1950s by Lesley Jackson (Phaidon)

The Sixties: Decade of Design Revolution by Lesley Jackson (Phaidon)

© Text and photographs copyright Lesley Jackson