Category Archives: Guest Bloggers

Before & After: Vintage Radiogram

By Jess Binns of Hector & Bailey

It’s with great pleasure to take the reigns on today’s post for the lovely Rose and Marica from The Design Tabloid. I’d love to share with you the latest ‘Found & Fixed’ item, hot off the press from the Hector & Bailey studio. And, exclusively for The Design Tabloid, I’m going to take you step by step through the whole upcycled process.

So get comfy and I shall begin…

Let me introduce you to Maxwell. An abandoned radiogram, stripped of it’s function and in general, looking a bit worse for wear.

      1. First things first, preparation is the key to a successful outcome, that and patience. So to start, remove handle and any other hardware and start sanding. I use a combination of an electric mouse sander and hand sanding. You need to aim to take off all the old varnish in order to reveal the timber is it’s raw form.

      2. Once this messy job is complete, I washed down the radiogram with a sugar soap solution.

      3. Due to this once being a functioning radiogram, there were signs of missing shelves where large recesses sat. I filled all of these areas with wood filler and allowed to dry fully. {click on images to enlarge}

      4. The next step is to mask off all the areas where you don’t want the paint to reach. In this instance, I wanted to retain sections of wood that were just too beautiful to cover up.

      5. Once complete, I then set to work priming the unit. I only work with water-based paints for all of my wooden items, so I use a wonderful primer from B-Earth, which creates a bond and provides excellent adhesion. Being toxic free, the bond has no smell and dries very quickly, best of both worlds!

      6. Now on to the main colour. For Maxwell, I went for a shade of ‘Greige’ (a grey/beige mix!) in a water-based emulsion. First I painted all the fiddly areas with a small paintbrush… {click on images to enlarge}

      7. The large surface areas were painted with a foam roller. I find this leaves a nice, smooth finish, especially if you have time to build the layers up. I mostly average on 3 coats.

      8. To add a bit of interest, I opted for pale cream painted socks, the contrast from the greige and the rich wood works a treat!

      9. Putting the main body to one side to allow the paint to set, I then turned my attention to the handle. Looking a little tarnished, I decided to spray them cream to match the feet. First you need to prime, allow to dry, then spray on the top coat.

      10. For the inside, I wanted to create an impact by using wallpaper. This is a great way to use up any off-cuts you may have.  This is where concentration levels have to be at an all time high! Especially if you want to ensure the pattern matches on both sides. Using wallpaper paste, I attached each section with a careful eye. {click on images to enlarge}

      11. In order to make the most of the radiogram, I decided to utilize the space underneath, so installed a 3mm ply painted base. Before fitting, I staple-gunned fabric to the grill section from behind to provide a splash of colour.

      12. It’s now time to add a back to Maxwell. For this I used 6mm Marine ply with a section cut out to allow access to the low shelf. This was finished in the same colour and panel pinned on.

      13. Almost there, I re-attached the opening mechanism and fitted the newly sprayed handles. the last job is waxing the whole unit with furniture beeswax to create a protective barrier. I prefer using wax over varnish as you can build up layers over time, beeswax is eco friendly and varnish always leaves brush marks.

Please meet the finished article……!

{Maxwell and some other Hector & Bailey upcycled treasures will be showcased and up for purchase at the Joburg Food Wine & Design Fair. Be on the look out for the miss+meisie collab – Jess alongside Wendy of SketchBok/dbn.}

Lelanie Slater On Personal Design Style

“For about a year now, I have been following Lelanie Slater’s “of Beauty and Love” blog posts, as well as touching sides with her here and there via email. She is both writer and Interior Designer. As you can imagine the combination of the two skills make for very interesting reading. Recently Lelanie has touched on a very thought provoking issue about developing your personal design style / manifesto.  I was so moved by it, that we asked Lelanie to guest blog for The Design Tabloid on these same issues. The outcome – below you will find a condensed version of her three posts, which if this article grabs your attention, you can pop over to her blog to catch the in depth discussions. Enjoy…”  – love,  Rose 

By Lelanie Slater

I recently realised with a shock that so many designers tend to produce the same results. No matter who you enlist, the end result will be pretty much the same. Almost as if the designer has no personal design manifesto or compass with which to guide his clients through their individual style.  What sets that compass-less designer apart from the crowd??

But designers aside, let’s acknowledge that we spend so much of our time at home. Why not be as particular and personal in our homes as we are with the outfits and accessories we wear.

A home is the most personal thing. It reflects hopes, dreams, desires and it reveals an awful lot about the residents. So why are we so reluctant to make it our own?

Why then do so many South Africans tend to resort to the ‘design strategy’ of: mimic my favourite shop to achieve the show room quality? Replicating the rooms that are to be found on Retail Showroom floors, – a malaise that concerns me greatly and something that I have called ‘shop houses’. Where is personal taste in this?

In an ideal world we should each have a manifesto. Not just a design philosophy, but a personal manifesto, stating in black on white what we stand for, believe in, live for and love.

A constant reminder - Lelanie keeps her personal design manifesto close by.

Over a period of time, I developed a personal design manifesto.  It encapsulates my design philosophy, found in my company name, Of Beauty and Love.   I believe that each and every item in a space should be beautiful and fondly loved by the inhabitants. In short……

            “Design should be a tale of Beauty and Love”….

This manifesto is popped on my desk, and I refer to it when doing any design, styling or other creative work. Sometimes, all of us need a bit of guidance. That is why I love having my manifesto close by, plus I revisit it regularly.


The most important thing with a personal design style, philosophy or manifesto is to be true to you. The first question to ask is if there is a specific style that appeals to you? What decorating style have you used in your space? Country, modern or none? If you have no idea which design style you gravitate towards it is time to enlist our secret weapon, for step number two. Magazine tear sheets. There are few things as accurate, therapeutic and enjoyable as dedicating 40 minutes to tearing beautiful pictures out of magazines. It’s the ideal way to check what your subconscious really prefers.

Tear out images that automatically speak or appeal to you. No matter how different it is to your perception of your style.

Once you have a nice stack, you can begin to sort them. You will need a scrapbook, a display file with clear sleeves, a box or a large envelope for storing these. Go through the images you have selected. . Write it on the image what appeals to you (or use a post it.)

When going over them, begin to follow the clues to your personal design style, by noting colours that repeat and why they might appeal to you. Look at the details in the pictures. If you simply like the overall look of an image, the key to its appeal might lie in the colour palette, the height of the ceiling, the feeling created etc. Try to ask yourself the following:

  *  What appeals to me in this image?

  *  Do I like the colours and why?

  *  What is it about the decor that appeals to me?

Now you can proceed to the next step of the investigation. Ask yourself the following questions:

  *  What decor style am I most drawn to? Why?

  *  What palette am I most drawn to?

  *  Would I be comfortable living with this?

  *  Which are my favourite home magazines?

Remember that this stage, there is no need to begin defining your style.  Just begin to recognise the styling elements that reflect your person.  As it emerges, your style could be Modern Romantic, Whimsical Cottage or Salvaged Chic.  As long as it’s true to you, there is no wrong answer.

Which tools do you like to use when defining personal style or looking for inspiration? Would you like to try any of the above?

Be sure to check out Lelanie’s blog: here

Mood board images via: 1, 2, 3

James Russell on the History of Toile de Jouy

By James Russell

“Saucy!” thought I, as I looked closer at the etched picture that had caught my eye whilst paging through a sample book of Toile de Jouy fabrics. At first glance it was a blue on white monochromatic Pastoral scene of “country folk” frolicking amongst ‘vignettes’ of farm buildings, sheep herding, farming, hunting and the like, but on closer inspection I noticed that one of the young farmers had his hand down the cleavage and was cupping the breast of a maiden, whilst another young lad had his arm up the voluminous skirts of a shepherdess.

Some farming imagery on this lovely ochre and indigo toile fabric.

Modern marketers will tell you that “sex sells” and I’m sure this was as true in the 1700 & 1800’s as it is today. It is also said “that the Devil is in the detail” and I suppose it is ‘the detail’ that first intrigued me about Toile de Jouy. Looking closer at some of the pictorial designs I became interested in the stories behind them. I’m by no means a history buff, but I do have a curious mind that questions.

Les Traveaux de la Manufacture which depicts the actual process of making toile fabrics.

As Europe started trading with India, cotton became a popular fibre for making cloth, so much so that the domestic wool and silk industries in both France & England started to suffer. In 1686 France placed a ban on both domestic & imported cotton fabrics, a ban that was only lifted after 70 years in 1856. After all this time, cotton must have seemed like a brand new commodity to the people of the day! Incidentally, the British also placed a ban on imported chintz (a basic cotton cloth) from 1701, and in 1720 to 1774 on all cotton fabrics, mainly due to cheaper Indian imports (so what’s new?)

On the left: Robinson Crusoe Toile and the right: Le Ballon de Gonesse

Like any entrepreneur, a young German engraver & colourist called Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf and his younger brother, saw the gap and “went for it” setting up a printing press in Jouy-en-Josas, a small village on the banks of the river Bievre, 16.4km south west of Paris. The initial designs, usually of flowers and fruits, were copied from books of engraved prints carved into small wood printing blocks. (One supposes that the laws on copyright were not as strict as they are today.) The clean waters of the (soon to be polluted) river were essential for the mordant printing methods used by the brothers. When they started the factory, the only piece of “furniture” they possessed was the printing press which they used to sleep on at night.

One of Harlequin Fabrics' bold toile ranges.

The initial printing methods used a mordant, a substance used to set dyes on fabrics. Once printed with the mordant, the fabric was then dyed using various vegetable dyes. The fabric was then soaked in an acid such as stale cow’s urine or vinegar that acted as a fixative locking the dye to the printed mordant area of the cloth. It was then washed in the river to remove the loose dye, and dried on pontoons on the river to let the sunlight work as a bleaching agent on the non-dye fixed areas. This process was repeated a number of times until the background colour returned to white or cream and the print stood out.

Contemporary toile wallpapers. The scenes speak of the traditional, the colourways shouts "contemporary".

There is a story, possibly an “urban legend” that Oberkampf sent his brother to Manchester to study (and steal) ideas from the Manchester mills. He is said to have written out his findings on pieces of cloth using a mordant solution which was invisible to the naked eye, but when dyed and treated using their printing method, revealed all. Having established that copyright was not sacrosanct, I’m not above believing in a little industrial espionage was amiss.

A contemporary toile in striking colours.

Using only the best quality cotton fabrics and with his Germanic adherence to detail, demand for the printed cloth (toile) from Jouy (de Jouy) grew rapidly and by 1774, only 14 year later, the company was employing 900 workmen. Over 30,000 wood blocks were utilized in the printing of the fabrics until in 1770 Oberkampf introduced the etched copperplate roller technique of printing fabrics. From then until the factory closed in 1843 some 700 copperplate designs were used. For nearly 80 years the designs from Jouy recorded in pictorial form a kind of journalism that depicted everything from historical happenings, travel (popularizing Indienne, Japonaise and Chinoiserie designs that proposed to picture people & everyday life in those far away lands), fashion trends that reflected the fascination with Egypt, inventions such as the flying balloon, politics, the Court & Royalty, architecture, the classics, modern literature and the arts.

Toile de Jouy Inspired Sneakers

By 1810 Oberkampf had made “toile” a household word/name not only in France, but throughout Europe and America as well. In today’s marketing terms this could possibly be seen as one of, if not the first time, that a “brand name” became synonymous with the product, much like we might say Hoover, Durex or Kleenex today. Many of the designs such as “Les Monuments d’Egypte”, “Les Traveaux de la Manufacture” (which depicts the manufacture and printing process of toile de Jouy), “Le Ballon de Gonesse” (depicting the first balloon flight from Paris to Gonesse) and the Robinson Crusoe Toile are considered classic toile de Jouy designs and were bought over by other French fabric companies when the company closed. Many of these classic designs are still in production today.

On the left a contemporary toile with an urban street scene as subject matter. Right, you have this funky scatter cushion from - a traditional toile with a contemporary print.

Although there were a number of other companies producing printed cotton fabrics in France, England and later America, none were as popular as Oberkampf’s company. The Napoleonic Wars and the self sufficiency of the American fabric industry contributed to its demise, yet still today companies producing “toile de Jouy” style fabrics continue the tradition of naming each “toile” such as “Glasgow Toile” by Timorous Beasties or the modern version of the “Ballon de Gonesse”. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the balloon flight, the children of Gonesse high school painted a mural of the famous toile as a mural on their school wall. Patrick Frey, then head of Pierre Frey fabrics was so taken with the mural that he bought the rights to the wall and had it converted into a toile.

Here is an awesome local toile design by talented Capetownian, Wendren Setzer (aka The WREN Design). The design is called Darling Toile du Jouy! Love it!

Originally designed as dress fabrics and later used for interior décor, toiles have become perennial, and are now used on anything from wallpapers, ceramics and gum boots to beanbags, directors chairs, lampshades and ‘takkies’. So next time you see a toile being used and are tempted to dismiss it, to take it for granted, to overlook the detail by consigning it to the category of “pretty picture fabric”, look a little closer for the Devil is in the detail along with sex, drugs and rock & roll too!



Image sources:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

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