A Carnival for the Eyes

“What’s the matter?” “Oh, nothing, really, I just can’t find the picture of those snake sconces. I feel like I just saw them. Somewhere. Didn’t I show it to you?”

“Yes, but it wasn’t in those books; it was upstairs.” No, no it wasn’t, but I didn’t want to say that, so I just didn’t lift my eyes from the book and mumbled a reply. But Mr. Blandings was right. It was upstairs and I am publishing his triumph on the internet as he said, “I hate to be so excited, but I’m not right very often.”

This is the home, and the snake sconces, of Henry Wilson. Henry Wilson is quite an ordinary name for a quite extraordinary man. Wilson, who lives in London, is a photographer and artist who has a great love of India. Before I was on my snake hunt, the needlepoint pillows in this room captured my heart. Wilson designed and stitched them. Petit point. I can see five on the sofas and if you stitch you know what an incredible amount of time and care has been spent here. (If you click on the images, you can see them bigger.)

Ah. And he has stenciled the walls as well. In nearly every room are fantastic designs.

For fun, you know. Because he likes it.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of re-doing my tiny powder room again. Wilson’s is dreamy with its silver leaf walls and stenciling. That he did himself. Really, if I hadn’t found my soul mate, music would be swelling.

“Having stepped over the threshold of my small Victorian terraced house in Chelsea [my editor] summed up my surroundings fairly swiftly: ‘obsessive’. For once in my all-too-slow-witted life, I came back in a flash: ‘No, Rupert – focused.’ But, of course, I know it is obsessive. I’d go further: it’s compulsive and without an iota of intellect – it’s instinctive.”
Oh, Mr. Wilson, I would like to meet you.
All images World of Interiors, December 2009; photography by Henry Wilson. The title of the post is taken from the text and describes how Mr. Wilson sees India.
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39 thoughts on “A Carnival for the Eyes

  1. Mrs Blandings,

    I have been a long time reader but have never commented before. I feel like we share a connection as I am also from the Midwest. In Michigan, where I'm from, it is unusual to find anyone who appreciates "decorative obscurities" such as World of Interiors. I am sure I'm the only one in my small town who buys W of I at Barnes and Noble. It is nice to find someone who appreciates the same things.

    This house is fabulous. The stenciling is out of this world. I would love to do something similar. The Stencil Library website has some wonderful designs that are quite similiar.


  2. Could you imagine how much fun it would be to have rooms like that? That is before the kids had you put away.

    Mr. Wilson's home is stunning.

  3. I do admire Henry Wilson's individual and intricate creativity, but what really delighted me about this post was that the editor was called Rupert. Just one of those little pieces of unfathomable rightness that spring out at you occasionally.

  4. I have seen this house before …but I don't know where. It's a bit like visiting the inside of a kaleidoscope. I likely would not have even noticed those amazing snake sconces. You have a very keen eye and memory for details! I certainly do admire his zest and capabilities.

  5. the devil is in the details.
    those snakes, that lion, the profusion of color, pattern and wit makes me smile.
    Invite Mr. Wilson to dinner and I shall bring some sort of savory concoction.

  6. He also has pictures hanging from chains similar to something you've posted before. The portrait drew me in instantly and those pillows are wonderful! Well done Mr. B.

  7. OOOhhh….. shivers slither up my spine, alas I am not a fan of the snake,…..although intiguing they are better seen "behind thick glass" for me. I do share the love of the stencil; do you remember the line RL had for a small while? You could order them and stencil from the pre made sheets? They were marvelous, but sadly, discontinued!
    The snakey sconces are sssssspectacular in form & shape slithering up those walls!!

  8. So impressed with Mr. B's awareness. Really, I'm impressed. Please pass that along for me. My husband, too, has to endure my obsession in design but he joins in from time to time. There could be worse things to endure I suppose. Love the house and sconces. Just beautiful.

    Gwen Driscoll
    Ragland Hill Social

  9. Caitlin – WOI is such a distinctive voice. I had let my subscription lapse as it was so dear, but find myself haunting B&N as well. Seems wise to renew.

  10. Toad – mine are so used to seeing me wandering, mumbling with a paint brush it wouldn't be of note. They will make fun of me behind my back, though.

  11. Ha, Husbands can occasionally be right apparently! Wonderful images, great inspiration for a powder room, a space where I think there is license to go a bit extreme.

  12. Mary – the colors are wonderful. As was the first day back at school. I was almost immobilized with possibility.

  13. A & A – I'll post his work room tomorrow and you will really be amazed. There is another shot in the story as well that shows another pair of snake sconces flanking the door of the room. Heaven.

  14. Gwen – I think it helped that we were talking about his childhood snake hunting. I may have a picture of the two of them together – it's delightful.

  15. Even without my second cup of coffee my eyeballs are peeled. Love the passion and the plethora of talents it took to make these rooms. Is this Thomas Britt goes to India? In our part of the world, I have enjoyed peaking in at Art is the Answer blog. She's a decorative artist in Austin. Might be powder room ideas in her archives. Today I am replastering my small bathroom for the third coat because my dim witted electrician thought I wanted the new outlet for my little chandelier half IN my shower (that was where room center was)!

  16. Oh, Mrs. B. What a morning treat this apartment was for me! As Winter grinds on the jolts of color are truly inspirational. The stencil designs are brilliant as well. A visual feast and a capturing of the essence of what India means to westerners – color, pattern, whimsy, fun and surprising juxtapositions. I suppose there's no way to get an invite for tea? Not that the weather in the UK is any better! Thanks.

  17. The first room is my favorite. I could live there – comfortably. If I've not seen it in a book, I've been there in a dream. Lovely.

  18. I'd like to meet him too – thanks for sharing someone who has such passion! As a friend of mine is fond of saying "Just get interested in something, for Pete's sake!" He is, and I am! Thanks for a morning lift! My transferware collection, columns of books on the fireplace, banana-leaf wallpaper, and Besserabian carpet feel vindicated too.

  19. Every room is incredible. I want to wedge myself into that breakfast room and get a closer look at the counter to the right. It looks like a curving built-in cabinet with stainless steel counter on top and sherbet colored doors and drawers.
    Thank you for the beautiful post!

  20. This is exotica-a bit of Bloomsbury goes to India. When breaking it down-there are many elements to take away of great ideas. The silvery ground would be a challenging technique to work with. The only detailing I don't like is the wide run around the breakfasting area-and little will Wilson care, but the ceiling is exciting.

  21. Stunning, so intricate. I'm glad you suggested clicking on the photos, there are so many more details to each shot! I've been thinking of "leafing" the interior of my dining room cabinets, this may get me going. Thank you for sharing!!

  22. Good news for everybody who loves this look. Henry Wilson designed a series of wallpapers for O&L. The book is called "Sariskar." The purple hallway shown last is my favorite paper in this book.

  23. I have the article also at home, very nice, too much for me. But this has to be done 🙂 love the sconces also.


  24. I've recently started buying WoI again too…

    His house is amazing, and I can see why you had those snake sconces on your mind – they are pretty fabulous!

  25. Fun post. I was wondering about the use of those snake sconces – and I see where/how they could be used.
    It's not for me, but I do appreciate the talent and creative intellect.

  26. I randomly discovered you off of PVE's. Died laughing that you collect half pairs of mittens. Glad to know you're a hop, skip, and a jump from Springfield. I'm going to go enjoy your blog now. It's amazing!

  27. Darn, I was about to post this beautiful house but I fear you have done it better than I will. Mr Wilson's sister Althea published a beautiful book called Stencil Genius in the 90's. Quite stunning. My own home is stencilled throughout and is open for tours. Some R L stencils are still available I forget who has them but can research if you want to know. Thank you commentor Caitlin for mentioning http://www.stencil-library.com

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