I came across this London kitchen the other day at that oracle of all things Italian and stylish on the web, ATcasa. What made me do a double take is the description applied to it, “informale et molto British”:
Oh, dear, is that what the Italians think of us? Informal is not so bad, but the rest of it – dreary wood slab doors (you can tell me they’re an exotic veneer if you want, but they look like dull plywood that needs a few more finish coats to me), plain white 4×4 tile, blending into plain white boarded walls, cheap home centre faucet (er, tap, I mean), window too small and too high up… I don’t think they are very impressed with British style, do you?
Just out of curiousity I did a google image search to see what comes up for “Italian style”. Right there in the top row is this image:
OK, yes, that’s pretty stylish – and it says something that “flirting” is so near the top of a search for Italian style, doesn’t it?
There is no image for British style flirting until I specifically add the word to the search – that says something too, of course. And even then the British flirting seems to need plenty of alcohol to get it going. Oh dear, perhaps we are as dull as they seem to think?
Then again, British style largely consists of not appearing to try too hard. Like this powder room, which looks like a bunch of old and inconvenient plumbing relics pulled together in an awkward space:
It is possible that they really haven’t tried too hard, and these relics have survived untouched since between the Wars (Napoleonic and Boer?), but equally likely that they have been purchased, restored, and assembled at great expense, to give the the impression that their owner is just too stylish to care about style. And by that measure, the “molto British” kitchen is a raging success, isn’t it?
*The exact phrase that any unreformed Brit will utter if you try compliment them on something they are wearing or have in their house. Well it might be “found it at Harvey Nicks sale” or “pulled it out of a skip” but you get the point – they are not trying to impress you in any way whatsoever, at all.