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Agora Marketplace Antiques

North Wales, Pennsylvania
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Selling high quality luxury items from clients in the Philadelphia Region

Elvis the Victorian- Think He’d like a Eastlake Marble top Washstand?

Eastlake Marble Top Washstand A few years ago my family had the opportunity to visit Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. Given that it was last decorated during the 1970’s & the worldwide epidemic of  bad taste occurring at this time, I can give him a little leeway on the just-short-of-god-awful decor. Elvis himself was very involved in decorating the mansion.  Who knew the King of Rock & Roll cared about a color palette & textile swatches?

Elvis bought the home in 1957 & began extensive renovations. In the 1970’s, designer Bill Eubanks came in & Elvis worked alongside him to re-decorate & add some modern touches like the wall of TV’s in the media room.  Allegedly, Elvis had heard President Nixon often watched several TV’s switched to different channels & Elvis wanted to incorporate that into Graceland.  In the pool room, the walls & ceiling are swathed in 400 yards of fabric for what Eubanks refers to as a “coccoon” effect.

Eastlake Marble Top WashstandMost notorious is the “Jungle Room”. Elvis was a big fan of Hawaii & wanted a room to reflect that love. The room boasted floor & ceiling – yes, it covered the ceiling – green shag carpet, a Tiki bar, & one end of the room was dominated by a flagstone wall that actually functioned as a waterfall.  I use the term “functioned” loosely as the room frequently flooded.  Ornately carved, blocky, Witco sofas & chairs were in upholstered in faux fur.

Eastlake Marble Top WashstandThe nicest thing that is often said about the decor at Graceland is “tacky”. Rooms like the jungle room are gaudy, overdone & overly embellished. Elvis would have made a good Victorian.  Well, aside from the pelvis shaking & rock & roll. Victorian style was filigreed, overblown, opulent & excessive with strong, bright colors.  Modern design tends to be streamlined with clean lines & minimal accents & much more neutral colors.

In reaction to this overblown style, Charles Lock Eastlake, a architect and arts writer, not a furniture maker, began designing furniture. Moving away from the fussiness of classic Victorian design, Eastlake streamlined the intricate carving down to much simpler lines.
Instead of the high relief carving, pieces were lightly carved in more geometric designs & the grain of the wood was emphasized.
Eastlake Marble Top WashstandEastlake believed furniture should be made by people who took pride in their work calling for handcrafted, solid wood pieces with rectangular joinery. Furniture should be well made, with form & function being equally important.
He emphasized honesty in manufacture of his pieces, using oils rather than stain to finish pieces.
The result is simple, beautiful furniture. Manufactured by factories in the east that had branch offices in midwest cities, pieces survive today as a result of the outstanding craftsmanship.  Dressers, marble top washstand, bed frames, chairs.  Just some examples of his furniture pieces.

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