Theophilus Thistle

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

After hearing many glowing recommendations, last week we found ourselves in 1930s London listening to the King’s Speech. With the Kilburn Tricycle Cinema our tardis, we settled down to watch an endearingly eccentric Geoffrey Rush attempt to teach a marvellously uptight, superbly stammering Colin Firth to sift thistles.

In what is my favourite film of 2011 thus far, Lionel Logue attempts to cure King George VI of his speech affliction and as delighted as I was with their performances from the outset, I quickly refocussed on Production Designer Eve Stewart’s stunning set which, having read a little about the film, I now know was created on a shoestring.

Our first guess at the filming location of Logue’s theatrical office was St Paul’s Artist Studios or ‘the windows’ on the A4 out of London. I know many of us curiously stare up at them en route to Heathrow or Harrods, wondering what bohemian secrets hide behind their magnificent cheval-glass windows. Well, on this occasion, it is not a stammering King! It appears that our King preferred the Westend to battle his demons, the actual site being 33 Portland Place, an 18th century townhouse architected by Robert Adam.

Sunburst art deco wallpaper, burnished surfaces and evocatively distressed walls all lie behind todays inspiration – and my wonderings at how to recreate the interior walls of roaring 1920s & 30s London. Although I couldn’t find the the beautiful yellow and green sunbursts above, here is a selection of what I did discover….

Harlequin’s 1930s inspired Arkona collection features the ‘Deco’ paper and at £35 a roll, it’s my winner.

Cole & Son’s ‘Feather Fan

Osborne and Little’s ‘Folie’ from their 2005 Boheme Collection

Bradbury & Bradbury’s handprinted ‘Volute‘ in Champagne Pearl

Adelphi Paper Hangings produce ‘historically accurate block printed wallpapers’ which they supply to museums and historic houses as well as homemakers. ‘Spiral Willow‘ caught my eye in this historic yellow colourway.

Farrow & Ball’s Arts & Crafts inspired offerings include ‘The Lotus Papers‘ – and they come in a generous palate of colours. Exquisite!

Second Hand Rose in NY sells original vintage wallpaper. I spotted the below but they are one-offs so you have to be quick!

If shipping wallpaper from the US doesn’t appeal then ebay is always a good place to look but my hot tip is Portobello road. Halfway up the hill there is a theatrical Madame selling vintage fabric and ribbons on her stall. If you ask nicely, she’ll pull out an old brown trunk containing precious early 20th century wallpaper samples that she discovers in the South of France. They are not cheap but 100% authentic, a good size and she has an extensive selection.

Recreating the distressed plasterwork on stone look probably requires an experienced decorator but Osborne and Little’s ‘Oratorio‘ is an excellent illusion and alternative.







p.s Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter, Is sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles… and I didn’t even stammer!


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