I have returned from a great short trip to England. I visited my beloved Cornwall, where I tromped around cute towns, breathed sea air, ate fudge, climbed hills, rode boats and generally enjoyed myself, despite the rain. I also spent a little time in London, where the rain drove me into museums. One I like to visit is the Wallace Collection (New Yorkers can imagine a larger version of the Frick). It's a manageable scale, plus it's close to Marylebone High Street, a shopping strip I like (particularly here and here). I've also really enjoyed the cafe.
The cafe is relatively new (last ten years?). The former courtyard was given a glass roof and a clean, modern cafe was installed. Perfect place for a cream tea on a rainy day. Well, on this visit, I had my moment of interior design horror, and I could think of no other place than this blog to adequately express it.
So I had to do some Googling to remember what the cafe used to look like, and the above two pictures were the best I could find. Now that I see it, I realize that pale wicker is not the most exciting thing in the world. Just take my word for it: the place felt simple, elegant and refined.
Ok, now here's the after! What the hell is going on? Yes, those are giant, fake-old, scrolled iron chairs. With burgundy pillows with gold embroidery. Not pictured are the seafoam green cushions, also trimmed with gold, that lined the banquets. Ugly, ugly, ugly! I still had a nice cream tea in a pleasant space, but the decor really bummed me out. Am I crazy?
On a positive note, I also stopped in the totally awesome Victoria & Albert Museum, which seems to get better each time I visit. I checked out the just opened Medieval and Renaissance galleries, and then I had lunch at their cafe, which is housed in three historic rooms, and must be one of the most beautiful museum cafes in the world (my sandwich wasn't bad either). Love how they tweaked things a bit with those modern chandeliers, but otherwise the furniture does nothing to compete with the space, and certainly doesn't insult it.
top image is Poussin's "A Dance to the Music of Time" at the Wallace, inspiration for one of my favorite books