House Tour: Estelle’s 70’s-tastic Home
Any fan of 70s décor on Instagram will recognise this week’s home in a flash. Estelle is a life-long thrifter of vintage, but has recently honed her skills on just one decade …
So, Estelle please tell us about your fascination with the 70s … Have you always been a fan, how did it start?
I always remember being interested in the 60s and 70s, my parents had me late in life and they lived in London from 68 to 74, the really had the swinging sixties lifestyle that was in the media at the time. They talked of seeing Jimi Hendrix live and my Dad knew Ginger Baker. My Mum shopped in Biba and wore Mary Quant too, the Interior Design company she worked for was just around the corner from Kensington High Street where Biba was based and she went in there every day. My parent’s aesthetic at home I remember really clearly as a child was a mix of 70s and Victoriana and this had a deep impact on my childhood. As time went past, I researched more and read more about the era and started to dress in a 90s does 70s style and be influenced by bands and art of the era. My parents always encouraged me to express myself through art, clothing, music and interior design, allowing me to decorate my own bedroom at 14 which had psychedelic posters and velvet drapes, dark colours with ostrich feathers and even a green light bulb in a paper lampshade from Habitat. It reeked of joss sticks, but it's where I cut my teeth on interiors and got really inspired by the era.
Your home is full of fabulous kitsch and vintage pieces, how long has it taken you to achieve such a collection?
Some of the clothes and pieces I’ve got I’ve had since about 1990 when I started collecting bit from car boot sales and charity shops and second hand stores, vintage shops didn’t really exist back then, it was just old second hand tat. It made it really fun and affordable during my student years in the mid 90s where you could literally pick discarded bits of G-Plan out the gutter, I guess we are now talking about 30 years of picking bits up, keeping, selling, upgrading, pretty much most of my life.
Apart from the obvious 70s vibe, I’d love to know how you would describe your own vintage style?
Anally retentive these days, I used to be more fluid in collecting, picking up anything that caught my eye, like a retro magpie, I mixed everything from deco to 80s. I’ve probably become more purist these days. There are things I’d change, things that I’d move on and things I’d like, but the annoying and brilliant thing about vintage is you never know what you are going to find. I hate paying top dollar for pieces which means the rewards are so much sweeter when you find something you’ve been coveting a while at a bargain price. To curate an interior is just that, it takes time, it evolves, it’s not like popping to West Elm with a credit card, everything is hard won and searched for. My mates still call me a Tat Wanker though ;)
You have created some amazing super graphics, what was your inspiration for these?
I started dabbling with super graphics based on original artwork about 15 years ago in my bathroom in my flat, unfortunately this was before the invention of Instagram and before people took photos to share their homes, I've learnt a lot since then 😂. In this home I decided about four years ago to add some detail to bare walls and started with our kitchen and added to it over the years. I wanted to do more, and when I found the mirror at the car boot last year it inspired me to redesign our hall and landing including super graphics based on original 70s designs.
It was really fun and surprisingly easy to do. I've seen it grow in popularity over the last 6 months in particular, except it’s been renamed colour blocking, I think this just proves my theory that all interior design is pretty much recycled ideas. People have often told me they love it but would never have the confidence to do something like this in their own homes, I say it's just paint, if you hate it, you can just paint over it, there's not the commitment to it and it can be achieved on a budget with tester pots.
Where do you source your items / furniture from?
Mostly car boot sales, ebay and facebook market place, I have got some pieces from online vintage boutiques such as Dogwood Lifestyle.
What is your criteria when thrifting for your home?
I do think fabulous is my main criteria, rarely does it fit much to the chagrin of my other half. Sometimes I have something very specific in mind, such as the ladderax which I hunted down in Southampton for our vinyl collection. Mostly I stumble upon things when I’m not even looking for them, like my dining table and chairs and my spaceage bed.
Do you have a favourite piece in your home?
Definitely my late 60s Isokon Long chair, designed by Marcel Breuer. My Dad had one when I was a kid and had to sell it in the 80’s it was his favorite chair. I swore as a child that I would buy one back.
You just completed a bathroom refurb during lockdown, that must have been a challenge to say the least?
It was possibly the most idiotic thing ever, if I knew then what I know now I wouldn't have ripped the bathroom out 2 weeks before lockdown 🤦♀️ but it was started and fortunately our builder, Oscar managed to get everything functioning before lockdown, we then battled to get it finished, cosmetically in the past 8 weeks, I'm really happy how it's turned out, it's been a really hard graft and demanding project at the best of times, but it's been worth it.
Your home is often used for location shoots, care to tell us about some of the publications it has been featured in?
Unfortunately, I’m not able to disclose the up and coming ones which have been shot and have been delayed due to the current pandemic. But I have been involved with a couple of fashion shoots, including the amazing Hippie Shake vintage clothing brand and Tatty Devine. I was signed up to UK locations at the beginning of the year which has opened up our home to a whole new audience and it has recently been cast for filming, music videos and adverts. If anyone wishes to use our home as a shoot or film location please contact UK Locations. I’m hoping that once we are back to normal we can resume the exciting business of renting out our home.
Photo credit: Hippe Shake
As well as having a fabulous vintage home, you also run a wonderfully kitsch upholstery business, Estelle Bilson Creative. Please do tell us about it …
It was born out of my love for all things kitsch, UK 70’s television and to put two fingers up at the stuffy homeware market. I was once told that there was no call for it, I’ve proved them wrong! It’s been so much fun working on products, I especially love personal commissions, I have one amazing customer who has ordered over 10 cushions all unique to her. I adore coming up with new ideas, I especially love working on my Christmas cushions, which have been delivered all over the globe. Things have slowed down because of lockdown, but I will be back with bigger and better ideas!
Check out more of her fabulous kitsch homewares: @estellebilsoncreative
And if you’re in the market for a retro location you can find Estelle’s home on UK Locations
Photo credits: All photos kindly provided by Estelle, unless otherwise stated.