Saturday, April 16, 2011

Florence, the Original Style Queen

I mentioned in the last post how this whole upholstery venture started over a conversation about Florence Broadhurst.

Image from

Last year while in Sydney for Mardi Gras, we visited Vampt Vintage Design and our eyes boggled out of our heads at their two levels of incredible mid-century furniture. We also noticed a sample folder of Florence Broadhurst fabrics and probably squealed and dribbled. Well, the lovely Dave at Vampt actually offered to give us a lift to Signature Prints, the custodians of Florence's designs, where they still print (by hand) from her original designs. We were given a tour of the warehouse and it was the absolute highlight of our Sydney trip.

Florence was born in 1899 and her life story is an incredible read - a cross-dressing, banjolele playing vaudeville stage star in Shanghai, a couturier in London, a self-proclaimed 'best Australian artist', a trucking company owner and an innovative designer of wallpaper. She started screen-printing wallpaper in the early sixties and was tragically murdered in 1977. Owners of Signature Prints, Helen and David Lennie revived and catalogued Florence's design legacy and have brought her flamboyant prints to international attention.

It seemed appropriate that the first chair I ever bought from the Tender Centre for $10 (and the only chair I owned for a while whilst going through a monastic phase and living in a 7 x 3m shed with an outside cold water tap) had to have a Florence makeover...

In the shed with Zebedee, RIP my big shadow. The poor old chair had a pillow to make the protruding springs bearable and a sari tied around it to improve on its appearance...slightly.

And finally, after eight years, the stripping process begins..

We use a paint stripper called 'Citrostrip' it's non-toxic and biodegradable.
And here's the finished Florence makeover in our lounge-room, needless to say she's for keeps.

We thought we'd enter an interior design competition recently run by InsideOut magazine. We didn't win but we did feature on their website with this chair as one of the 12 standout entries. We didn't want the paint prize anyway! You can see it here.


gaby@stilelemente said...

Lovely transformation. I'm a big fan of Florence Broadhurst too, really amazing patterns and designs and am so glad David and Helen Lennie had the good sense to revive them.

Val said...

We featured you on our blog today. Go check it out at and hit the blog button. If you ever need any fabrics, I might be your chick too! :) Best. Valerie @

Anonymous said...

I like that florence as well, great chair finish and yer old (rip) dog is a beauty, looks kelpie x , chook

le@thirdontheright said...

she was amazing - I adore her designs !! le xox

Raine and Sage said...

This fabric is stunning, as is the lines of that chair. Congratulations on being featured.