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Retro Interiors: Dream Homes And Telltale Furniture

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These photographs of interiors were acquired by vernacular collector Robert E. Jackson. Looking at them makes us wonder what the decor revealed about the owners’ interior lives? And why did they take these pictures? Did the owner consult the snapshot of the chair as they stood in a store trying to work out if it went with the curtains or rug they were thinking of buying? It’s fun to guess and imagine the stories and faces behind the fourth wall.


retro interiors


Humanity loves material things – we are, after all, corporeal, taking up space in any room, like the sofas, TV sets and, if we exist in one space and style for long enough, the wallpaper. To what extent do our chosen surrounding – the colors, fabrics, texture, compositions, harmonies and clashes – reflect our aspirations or resignations? These aren’t just old photos of rooms full of stuff once deemed fashionable; they’re anthropologists’ dream sequences.


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“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room


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So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.
— Veronica Shorff, Comes The Dawn


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“Nan sat down in the little armchair and folded her hands in her lap. A parlor of her own! She had never even had a bedroom of her own let alone a parlor. It was quiet in here, the noises of the house shut away, the sound of the wind and rain outside seeming only to intensify the indoor silence. The light of the flames was reflected in the paneling and the burning logs smelled sweet. Something inside her seemed to expand like a flower opening and she sighed with relief. She had not known before that she liked to be alone. She sat still for ten minutes, making friends with her room, and then she got up and moved slowly around it making friends with all it had.”

– Elizabeth Goudge, Linnets and Valerians 


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It was then I began to understand that everything in the room had stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago. I noticed that Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from which she had taken it up. As Estella dealt the cards, I glanced at the dressing-table again, and saw that the shoe upon it, once white, now yellow, had never been worn.

– Charles Dickens, Great Expectations


retro interiors


I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s center of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity — to decorate one’s inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome anyone who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same when one is inevitably alone.

– Edith Wharton


retro interiors


What care he took, what meditations he surrendered himself to, before turning over his house to the upholsterers!
He had long been a connoisseur in the sincerities and evasions of color-tones. In the days when he had entertained women at his home, he had created a boudoir where, amid daintily carved furniture of pale, Japanese camphor-wood, under a sort of pavillion of Indian rose-tinted satin, the flesh would color delicately in the borrowed lights of the silken hangings.

– Joris-Karl Huysmans, A Rebours


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Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

– The Beach Boys, In My Room


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For more vintage wonders follow Robert E. Jackson on Instagram.

  • Those are just cool. And very interesting. And odd.

  • Steve Mills

    Dig those purple chairs!

    Love the “In My Room” quote. I’ve always liked that song bunches.