The Lock In: 5 Steps to Creating an Eclectic Saloon
You know those shampoo ads which say you’ll feel like “you just stepped out of a salon?” Well here at The Grounds, we’d rather make you feel like you just stepped out of a saloon. When it came to styling our private dining room, The Lock In, we wanted to make sure it felt like an establishment from a century ago.
When we create new spaces, it’s all about the details – and the whole idea with this space was to communicate a long history with many layers. Someone has to believe that this place really has been here for the last 100 years and not created from scratch.
So whether you’re planning your next poker night or simply want to “get the look” here are my FIVE tips to an authentic yet eclectic space…
1. Old picture frames hung at different heights
Nothing beats pictures of actual people and places from the time you’re trying to recreate – and by putting them into old picture frames, the effect is instant. Naturally, you’ll be wanting sepia or black and white tones in your photos or illustrations and look for interesting scenes. The 1920s distinguished gentlemen with their whisky and smoking a pipe is typical of the look.
For the frames themselves, I’m always on the lookout for old ones – they’re just so gosh darn versatile! I’ll use timber or brass frames that purposefully look tarnished, or even blackwood timber with brass highlights.
A lot older images you’ll see also have the matt board framing that sits around the image and within the frame, basically a frame within the frame. This is really important and adds another layer within your framing – and it’s up to you to pick the colour, size and edge of your matt. At this point, I’d recommend going with the “organic” approach – a mix of framing (some matt, some without) to give a more believable effect of images haphazardly collected over a long period of time instead of a fussily curated collection. You’ll see that with the Lock In we tried to cover as much wall as possible, filling gaps high in the upper walls with clusters of frames. The reason for going to this extreme is to create an over layered feel – bordering on cluttered. It suits the time period (no sleek minimalism here!) and it also makes the space more intimate and closed in.
2. Old books in unordered piles
Books are so useful. Well, to read of course, but also for styling! In my travels, I’m constantly collecting old hardcover books from various places. Great spots include antique stalls, etsy.com and eBay.
The internet, in particular, enables you to grab whole collections with minimal fuss. Thanks to things like Wikipedia and Google, printed encyclopaedias are commonly discarded these days, so you’ll usually be able to grab some of these. You also have to judge a book by its cover. If it’s too bright or glossy then it’ll stand out like dog’s balls.
And just like the picture frames, you’ll want the books to be as organically placed as possible – as if someone before you rummaged through and picked one out, put one back and so on. As a bonus, I also like to flip some of the bindings around and put a few books upside down. You’ll also find a pile of books on the floor or in amongst other props.
3. Vintage bottles
“99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beeeeeeer” goes the song. But I fear that may be an understatement in the Lock In, where there are even more bottles that we’ve collected over the years. I’m talking about old whisky, bourbon and all sorts of scotch & gin bottles left over from The Potting Shed.
These all have great shapes and range in colour from greens through to ambers. We also have a lot of different shaped crystal decanters – so with this mix & match of different shapes, textures and tones, we create a very eclectic scene.
Our Lock In was designed by Acme & Co with back lit shelves, allowing us to enjoy the beautiful warm glow as light filters through the glass. (This, I appreciate, is not something everyone will be able to do!) In lieu of fancypants lighting though, candles actually give a more genuine effect with a bonus wax-dripping byproduct that we all love. Just be careful not to burn down your house. That’s a definite mood killer.
4. Antique furniture and chairs
Old chairs and furniture can be found everywhere – often in whole sets. I found those in the Lock In at antique stores as well as tracking down some items from Ebay.
First up, it’s important to pick tones that suit your space. For the timber items, I chose caramel and walnut tones, with floral studs which tie in great with the leather lounges. Keep your choices of timber and leather on the warmer side too, sticking away from grey wash and cooler tones (too modern and outdoorsy). Oranges, yellows & reds give a space that warm and inviting feel.
The leather chairs we’ve used are great filler for this space. The leather is distressed to give it the feel of being aged. And even though it’s quite cliché, you could also use an old chesterfield lounge which makes a place look great every time.
5. Feature pieces
There are incredible feature pieces to be found everywhere – you just need to get hunting. Literally in some cases, with samples of taxidermy (stuffed animals) or a stag head a sure fire conversation starter. All these things you can find online – but trawling through a bric a brac or antique shop is so much more fun!
In the Lock In, we’ve filled it with a mix of items that really create the finishing touches to this space. Early technology is big – from old typewriters and gramophones to lamps and telephones. Add to this a cloak rack, dart board, trophies and all sorts of vintage items in every little nook and shelf for a rich tapestry of keepsakes. It’s all about layering and feeling like these things have been attained through the decades.
If you thought you’d seen all of The Grounds, but had never heard of our private den, The Lock In, stop by and check out this space! It’s tucked in between The Potting Shed and Atrium. We’ve purposefully kept it a bit of a secret – but it’s available to hire and has hosted some killer events including birthdays, poker nights, buck’s parties and more. Ask us for a look around next time you’re here.
And be sure to tag us in your photos and let us know what you’re up to in your own styling projects. I always love seeing something we’ve recommended here on the blog being used!