Updating Pretty in a Classic 1930s Revival

There was a time when pretty didn’t have such a positive connotation in the world of design. But no longer – pretty is most definitely back with a fresh new spin on tradition. And the upcoming March/April Veranda showcases a lovely example with designer Rob Southern’s timeless take on a classic 1930s revival gracing the cover of the issue.

classic 1930s revivalWhile it may seem that Southern started with an embarrassment of riches – a light filled 6,000 square foot NYC pre-war apartment with river views – he was intent on restoring the space to its original 1930’s lines. So after raising the ceilings and staining the floorings a deep lustrous walnut, he then approached the task of creating an ageless interior that could grow with the owners and their young family. The public spaces are unified in pale blues, distinguished by texture – a Brunschwig & Fils silk velvet for the dining room walls above and elegant Venetian plaster and lacquer in adjoining spaces. A lively mix keeps the “pretty” current as below, where a Dennis & Leen painted bench sits below a contemporary John Rosis painting flanked by vintage French sconces.

classic 1930s revival

Staying with mostly solids in a limited palette adds to the enduring quality of the design. Southern creates visual drama with an eclectic yet harmonious mix of shapes, styles and eras. In a corner of the living room, traditional tufting meets modern form in a custom sofa. And the curtains in a luxurious Holland & Sherry duchesse satin is paired with a luscious leather on painted armchairs. The pairing of Leora Armstrong‘s bright color field painting (note how the deep blue relates back to the Manuel Canovas cushion on the bench above) with a conceptual Pat Steir work (what looks like one of her waterfall prints) is a masterful match.

classic 1930s revival

And in contrast, I love Southern’s bold twist on a traditional library. Here the Yves Klein blue that is having its moment (harkening back to the painting and bench), appears in a Holland & Sherry fabric on the custom sofa and chairs, on Jacques Garcia’s chic Couronne Chandelier for Baker and on lacquer shades for the sconces – a great detail. And while I must admit to being on zebra rug overload, when used well, as here, it can add a great grounding pattern field that extends uninterrupted under the classic glass waterfall coffee table from Mrs. MacDougall at Hinson (now distributed through Donghia). Handsome brass detailing throughout adds a classic and luxurious touch.

classic 1930s revival

The master bedroom is the only room with pattern, where the beautiful Fortuny Mazzarino graces the custom headboard and Schumacher Jansen loveseat. The recurring dark blue, appearing on the antique bench, and the refined black and gold Jansen nightstand anchor the space.

classic 1930s revivalall photos by Peter Murdock

I am looking forward to seeing more of the new pretty when the new Veranda hits my mailbox soon.

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4 Responses to Updating Pretty in a Classic 1930s Revival

  1. I’m a big advocate of pretty. Not saccharine in-your-face sweetness, but lovely, understated, subtle sweetness, which this space has plenty of. That bedroom is my favorite. You couldn’t help but get a good night sleep there, I think!

    Happy Monday! XO

  2. Ellen Fisch says:

    Fresh, stylish with little “surprises, like the table base in the pretty bedroom, that POP the decor!

  3. Nounou Radwan says:

    Veranda is one of my favorite decor magazines

  4. of course love the yves klein blue!! and the bedroom paint is dreamy!

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