Some of the grandest Victorian houses in Hastings and St. Leonards were built on quite a different scale to what we are now used to, so it takes some stamina to reach designer Charlotte Elfdahl’s flat at the very top of one of the largest seafront residences. Dressed in khaki chinos cinched in at the waist with a green shell top and an Alice band in her hair, there is a strong hint of 1950s style in Charlotte’s appearance that is also reflected in the feel of her apartment.

Charlotte’s flat’s main reception room is subtly divided into a sitting and dining room merely by the arrangement of furniture. On a long wall hangs a 1950s advertising poster for BSA motorcycles. Next to it is another icon of 50s glamour – Marilyn Monroe reclines seductively on a film poster for The Asphalt Jungle.

Charlotte’s flat’s main reception room is subtly divided into a sitting and dining room merely by the arrangement of furniture. On a long wall hangs a 1950s advertising poster for BSA motorcycles. Next to it is another icon of 50s glamour – Marilyn Monroe reclines seductively on a film poster for The Asphalt Jungle

Charlotte’s standard lamps add a vibrant pop of colour

Charlotte’s standard lamps add a vibrant pop of colour

In one corner, several sets of shelves are crammed with books and pictures, including the poster for a recent exhibition in Hastings called Built for Speed and a black resin bust of Elvis by local artist, Mark Selby

In one corner, several sets of shelves are crammed with books and pictures, including the poster for a recent exhibition in Hastings called Built for Speed and a black resin bust of Elvis by local artist, Mark Selby

Charlotte’s workroom. “I got some bespoke commissions as a result of the Wealden Times Midsummer Fair,” explains Charlotte. “People sometimes bring me their own shades and fabrics so I can make them to suit their existing décor, which I’m also happy to do.”

Charlotte’s workroom. “I got some bespoke commissions as a result of the Wealden Times Midsummer Fair,” explains Charlotte. “People sometimes bring me their own shades and fabrics so I can make them to suit their existing décor, which I’m also happy to do.”

The lampshades I create are very time-consuming to do. I bind them all with cotton first, make a pattern and then pin and tack them on before I make the complete shade, line it and add the trimmings. It is then stretched over the frame, so it has to fit perfectly.”

"The lampshades I create are very time-consuming to do. I bind them all with cotton first, make a pattern and then pin and tack them on before I make the complete shade, line it and add the trimmings. It is then stretched over the frame, so it has to fit perfectly.”

In Charlotte’s bedroom a French bed upholstered in light Chartreuse green velvet is dressed with white cotton and a hand crocheted throw.

In Charlotte’s bedroom a French bed upholstered in light Chartreuse green velvet is dressed with white cotton and a hand crocheted throw

On the wall opposite there is a collection of five framed mirrors, all hung closely together so that they form a kind of panel

On the wall opposite there is a collection of five framed mirrors, all hung closely together so that they form a kind of panel

Charlotte’s ‘den’ where she designs and makes her lampshades. A simple table stands in front of the window and on top of it is a smart but rather old-fashioned-looking sky blue Singer sewing machine

Charlotte’s ‘den’ where she designs and makes her lampshades. A simple table stands in front of the window and on top of it is a smart but rather old-fashioned-looking sky blue Singer sewing machine

Stacks of lampshades are stored neatly around the edges of the room

Stacks of lampshades are stored neatly around the edges of the room

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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