When it comes to circus-like interiors, few decorators hold a candle to British photographer, set designer, and all-around Renaissance man Cecil Beaton (excluding out of fairness co-founders and CEOs of actual circuses). Architectural Digest recently highlighted an exhibition at the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum that traces Beaton's biography through a recreation of the interiors of two of his homes in Wiltshire, England, and as show curator Andrew Ginger tells it, Beaton's home in the village of Broad Chalke was all about "a fairly polished theatrical backdrop that was deeply influenced by his work for the stage, especially the high-Edwardian sets for Lady Windermere's Fan and movies like Anna Karenina." Many of Beaton's most dramatic pieces have been lost since his death in 1980, but Ginger and his partner Roger Barnard have used the Beaudesert, their Wiltshire-based fabric manufacturer and custom-bed firm to remake many of his best works for the show, including the canopy bed pictured above—a carousel-inspired, seahorse-accented work of papier-mâché recreated in hand-carved wood—and murals that were originally "brushed on by friends."
"Its decoration might be considered 'bogus,'" Beaton once wrote, "for many of the effects are created from things never intended for the purposes to which they were put." Here he refers to pieces like the military drum he conscripted as a bed-side table, but though others might have been down on the practice then, Beaton was way ahead of his time, if viewed in light of these "decor hack" and DIY-filled latter days. Visit AD for more views on Beaton at home, and head this way for a look at his iconic photographs.
· View design legend Cecil Beaton at home in new exhibition [Architectural Digest]
· Old Photos Capture Summers at a Historic UK Country Home [Curbed National]