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New (Old) “Trend” Alert – “The Eccentric (And Perhaps Senile) English Grandma” and How I’m Going To Use It in Our Home

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design by katharine howard | via living etc

It was 7:30 am on a Sunday morning. I waited to make the announcement until Brian was fully pacified by a cup of coffee, had two news articles under his belt, and the kids properly fed and watching cartoons. I started out with, “Brian, I need to tell you something”.

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Brian: “Uh-huh?”

Me: “I think we need a floral sofa.” (pause) “A floral sofa would solve all my problems.”

Brian: “Uh…HUH…”

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Vintage Frames 3
design by g.p. schafer architect and rita konig | via coco kelly

I’m not going to bore you with our relationship history because it’s fraught and tedious, but we have been fighting since day one stylistically and I’ve never walked in and said: “Hell, yes.” Just to be clear, I’m talking about the relationship between me and my living room (not Brian). I previously thought that I went too traditional in this 100-year-old house, and have been trying to pull myself back ever since. Now realize that I didn’t go far enough. If I really want to channel my inner “Eccentric English Grandma” (and I do) then I need to get far more eclectic and odd. This is not the Grandmillenial trend that has been popping up – although I will always regret that I didn’t come up with that term myself. It’s cooler than that, weirder, and yet more modern (no offense to all you millennial grandmas (??)).

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So what is “Eccentric English Grandma?” Well, it’s super eclectic, very collected, full of stories – some safe, some inappropriate. There is an “I don’t care because I’m on my way out” vibe about it, which you could also interpret as brave, risky, and full of confidence. It does not look “designed,” only lived in and loved. I picture her just a touch senile, with a dirty martini in her hand, perhaps some sort of old Hollywood headpiece, and head to toe in patterned clothes. She freely tells us about her affair with Wes Anderson (a younger man! Grandma!) and maybe she has tons of cash hidden around the house. But she’s a little old world too – she loves a floral print, she’s always ready to put the kettle on and share some well earned life experience, and her shelves are stuffed with souvenirs from decades of travel. My friends love her, and my kids can’t wait to visit her because surely she will tell them something they are far too young to hear.

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She’s cool.

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So how do you define such uniqueness? I am going to try. Let’s break down the elements of what I’m calling a new/old trend – “Eccentric English Grandma”.

Mixing Multiple Patterned Furniture Pieces

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Pattern On Pattern 12
design by soane britainduro olowu | photo by alexander james | via t magazine

You walk into her home and you are excited because the lady is either colorblind or BRAVE. She mixes so many patterns and has zero rules. But despite it seeming like she is patterning with reckless abandon, she does have some tricks up her sleeves. Let’s dive into what they are.

Delicate Prints

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Pattern On Pattern 6
design by nicola harding | photo by paul massey | via architectural digest

While she isn’t opposed to bolder graphic patterns, she is pretty into the smaller, more delicate patterns and prints. Small prints are back and it’s been a while. Since the ’80s I’d say (perhaps since her heyday).

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Pattern On Pattern 11
design by nick olsen | photo by thomas loof | via house beautiful

Just because they are delicate doesn’t mean she uses them delicately. She repeats the SAME pattern while mixing in others. If you like something, why not love it even more?

So Many Florals

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Pattern On Pattern 10
design by heidi caillier design | photo by haris kenjar photography

While delicate prints and patterns are king, florals are the crowned jewels. And it feels about time (if you ask grandma and me). Finally, florals are having a modern moment in furniture, and I want more, and more, and more. Who would have guessed this would be THE trend of 2020? Granda could have.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Pattern On Pattern 8
design by g.p. schafer architect and rita konig | via coco kelly

Here the designers played with mixing floral scales in the same color palette. It keeps your eye happy and interested. EEG (Eccentric English Grandma) APPROVED.

Reath Design, Westwood Residence. Photographed By Laure Joliet 2019
design by reath design | photo by laure joliet

This is true modern floral perfection. So now what we have our prints locked down, let’s move on. Grab your martini.

Decorative Lampshades

Whether pleated, fabric, patterned or tapered, she uses lampshades as an opportunity to add some serious texture, dimension, color, and pattern. She always says, “lampshades are like the rug of the face”. Oh, Grandma. That is utter nonsense. Let’s see if we can decode what she’s talking about, yes?

Pleated Shades

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Lampshades 5
design by beata heuman

I’m ordering one of these right now. Pleated shades had a breakout moment last year, but now they are a 2020 staple. Bu-bye drum and hello seemingly unnecessary, decorative shade. Remember when minimalism was so big like two years ago? HA.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Lampshades Side By Side 2
left: design by brandon schubert | photo by paul massey | via house & garden | right: design by hay

They evoke feelings of yesterday and yet are so stunningly fresh and modern. Ok, next up…

Patterned Fabric Shades

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Lampshades 7
design by g.p. schafer architect and rita konig | via cafe design 

It takes bravery to go so old world with a patterned fabric shade. But there is something so warm, inviting, eclectic and just weird about it.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Lampshades 4
design by ash nyc, nathalie jordi, & studiowta | photo by alex yeske

I want to be in that room so badly. I feel happier just looking at it. Gingham on gingham, guys. Gingham. On. Gingham.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Lampshades 10
design by ellen niven | photo by simon watson | via house beautiful

While I’m not yet into monogramming pillows, I sure do like the Wes Anderson vibe of the headboard/wall/lampshade fabric. Grandma would be very into this as it is a true design rule breaker. And she loves a hit of animal print. That’s probably where we divide.

Pleated and Patterned Fabric Shades

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Lampshades Side By Side
left: design & photo by harding & read | right: design by heidi caillier design | photo by haris kenjar photography

Why not take both of these awesome looks and put them together. As grandma says, “more is more is best.” Grandma, how many martinis have you had and can I have one?

Ruffles/Fringe/Skirts

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Ruffles 4
design by beata heuman

Nobody here is shocked that I love a ruffled bed skirt (or a good couch skirt). Sure, the mountain house screamed simplicity with the architecture and neutral decor, but as a style polygamist this granny was screaming, “why so boring???” (FYI, I don’t think it’s boring, just a different vibe for the function of that house which is calm and relaxation. Shut it, grandma).

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Ruffles 7
design by suzanne demisch | photo by stephen kent johnson | via surface

A bed or couch skirt is innately whimsical and I am highly considering one for the house. Can you guess which room??

Color: Via Painted Walls Or In The Furniture

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Walls 7
design by g.p. schafer architect and rita konig | via coco kelly

The all-white wall movement still works in the right space, but in an old house (specifically in a grayer climate like England, or say Portland) you want and need cozy and moody colors. The stimulation and mood-enhancing properties of said colors will change your day to day attitude. Plus, bold colors are so fun.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Green Walls Side By Side
left: image source | right: image source

Take these two rooms for example. They still would have been pretty if the cabinetry and walls were white but with the green they are serious showstoppers.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Walls 11
design by pappas miron | photo by david land | via architectural digest

Now, it’s no secret that I love red, and it’s not going away. It’s my full-time job right now to try to find the right room to paint red in my house. Perhaps the kid’s room door and trim? Half wall? It’s an absolute burst of energy and bravery… right, grandma?

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Walls 12
design by robert kime | photo by simon upton | via house & garden

Colorful walls, check. Now it’s time to top off those drinks and get into my last EEG topic…

Antique Frames For Art

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Vintage Frames 1
design by heidi caillier design | photo by haris kenjar photography

While I love the simple grid of art and all matching frames, for the right place, the antique frames and seemingly randomness of the art certainly makes it feel forever lived in. Also, please note the plaid sofa with a ruffle skirt. Also please note the white walls with the gray trim just like Sara did and wrote about this week. Ok, let’s look at more awesome vintage frames.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Vintage Frames 6
design & photo by anna haines

You can go for the same colored vintage frame like those gold-gilded guys in the photos above. OR you can mix and match frame materials, frame widths and obviously sizes. Also, always be sure to mix up the types of art. Use photos, drawings, paintings, etc. Grandma would NOT approve of the “one medium” look.

Emily Henderson Granny Chic Frames Side By Side
left: design by g.p. schafer architect and rita konig | via coco kelly | right: design by heidi caillier design | photo by haris kenjar photography

Now that you have all the info of where I am headed (design-wise) I have a fun fact about me that I haven’t told you (I don’t think). My great Aunt Flossy moved in with us when I was 8, she was 88 years old. My parents barely knew her but we were the only relatives she had. She lived through the great depression, served in World War 1 and 2 as a nurse, went to college and taught elementary school for decades, never having kids herself. By the time she came to us, she had Alzheimer’s, a lot of facial hair, and spit on the floor all day. At the time I was a child, then a teenager, so my understanding of her life was immature at best. She lived with us until she was 101 YEARS OLD. I had already left for college. She wasn’t the eccentric grandma that I’m writing about today, but she had stories. She didn’t care what other people thought. She lived far more, worked far harder, and endured far more than my muse today. I would have liked to know her before she had Alzheimer’s. And while I don’t think she cared about decor (she was more into hoarding away every penny in case of emergency), this is for her. I see you now, Aunt Flossy and I’ve started telling my kids the story of your life. I’m grateful for your strange but now positive impact on my life.

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SO. Like I said this is the direction we are going and I want your thoughts.

Are you into this wacky, eccentric English grandma (Aunt Flossy?)… I’m headed fast and hard into this for our 100-year-old English Tudor. It feels so good to be SO excited again about this living room, and honesty the whole house. Expect an English accent in my insta stories soon…

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Fin Mark

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Molly

I’m excited for your enthusiasm! However I’m terrified of Eccentric English Grandma! Eeeeeeeeee!!! Such a push-pull reaction. Though if anyone can pull it off and make it stylish and interesting it’s you! Bring it!

Nichole

I’m so excited! This is definitely what that room needs. And it will be done in your own unique way.

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