Estelle Bilson is an avid vintage lover, collector and awe inspiring interior designer from the UK. Her 70s abode is something that only our wildest retro dreams are made of! You've probably noticed her iconic home all over Instagram and Pinterest and have it saved for inspiration on your mood boards, like we do! Disco balls in the bathroom! This is our kind of bazaar babe! We'll be dreaming of the day we can come and visit the 70s House Manchester but until then, lets get to know the woman behind this home.
Tell us a little bit about yourself - who you are, where are you from and what sets your soul on fire?
Ok, Im Estelle, and I live in Manchester in the UK. I've collected vintage and retro since I was in my teens in the 90s. I LOVE finding 70s clothing and homewares and filling our home with vintage style. I'm primarily known for my Instagram page and business of the same name - 70s House Manchester.
We have been swooning over your home for some time now, tell us about how your exquisite 70s abode came to be?
I've always collected, since a small child. My father was an antique dealer so I used to go to auctions with him. I started seriously collecting anything from the 50s, 60s and 70s when I was 13 in 1990 but over the past 10 years I have concentrated more on the 70s, purely because I love the aesthetic. Our home really came into play when we had our child and I started spending more time at home. I wanted to be surrounded by beautiful things. Before that I worked long days in London in the fashion industry and I rarely had time for home improvements, just a hoard of vintage furniture.
When did your love affair for the 70s begin and what was your process behind designing each room?
It began as a child, I'm still not sure where, but it has always been there. My Mum and Dad lived in London in the late 60s and early 70s and Mum worked near Biba and used to go in there every lunch and wear the clothes and make up. She still used to wear the make up when I was small so I have memories of that. They really were very cool and they got to see Hendrix live! They had such cool stories. I was born in the 70s and my parents still had a lot of 70s furniture til the late 80s. I guess partly it is nostalgia for my childhood, buying things that my parents and grandparents had.
How would you describe your personal style?
If anyone has ever watched the 70s Sit coms, The Good Life or George and Mildred, I really very much identify with Margot Leadbetter or Mildred Roper. I even named one of our designs after the actress that played her - Yootha Joyce. Both were very strong, no nonsense, glamorous women. When I get the chance I like to live out my dreams in floating angle sleeve maxi dresses and pants suits.
Have you always had a creative flare? And where do you draw inspiration from?
Yes, I have always been creative. I studied Fashion Design and Production at uni and had a nearly 20 year career in the luxury fashion industry as a Technical Designer and Product Developer, it has taught me so much, especially when running my own business. For inspiration I look at my collection of vintage wallpapers and fabrics to get shapes and colours that appeal to me, but in reality I find inspiration in unlikely places. I do have a soft spot for magazines from the 70s though.
Who are some of your favourite artists or designers from the 70s?
Barbara Hulanicki would have to be number one, Biba was my first love as a teen and I was OBSESSED. I am currently having a massive Michael English moment, I'm LOVING his 70s air brush work. I'm a big fan of Barbara Brown and Evelyn Redgrave who designed fabrics for Heals. I also love Peter Max.
Your home is filled with statement pieces and icons of the era, where are your favourite places to shop and source these treasures from?
I love to buy from Ebay and Facebook market place. You can pick up stuff locally too, especially if you know what you are looking for. I tend not to look for very specific pieces, I buy what I love and make it work. I do have a few dealers that I always keep and eye on. Dealers will give you so much information and advice if you show interest. I do love a car boot sale too, you never know what you are going to find.
One of our favourite rooms is your extravagant bathroom which is adorned with disco balls! Tell us about this room and which room is your favourite and why?
Our bathroom is TINY, and I found the 70s french bathroom suite on Ebay for £20. My other half laughed when I told him about the brown suite, he said he didn't want a bathroom the colour of sh*t, but then I showed him a picture and he loved it. I wanted a really Studio 54/Biba vibe and I found the copper mirror tiles and everything just spiralled from there.... I wanted mirror tiles all over but it was so expensive so we opted for one wall and got the faux marble tiles at a bargain basement tile shop to keep costs down. The disco balls were something I added to the gold ceiling on a whim, I didn't tell Steve about them as I knew he wouldn't approve. I put them up when he was at work. It pays to do all the DIY at home and it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission sometimes. Thankfully he loved it and he now trusts my artistic vision more.
The 70s Manchester house has been the backdrop to many photoshoots and has also been spotlighted in the media. What has been your most exciting, ‘pinch me’ moment so far?
The Instagram account really took off in March 2020, it has all been a bit 'pinch me' and some days I am overwhelmed by the love that everyone has for our home. My big pinch me moment was when the production company who make The Bidding Room for BBC1 contacted me and wanted me to be one of the presenters on their show. Without the Instagram account I wouldn't have had these opportunities given to me and for that I am eternally grateful. We filmed series 2 late last year and it aired January 21st and I have just filmed series 3.
What's the next creative project you're going to dig your hands into?
I am always thinking about products, its in my blood as a Product Developer. We are working on some new colourways and designs for the home. Christmas (yes, I know the dreaded C word) is looking really exciting for 2021 with some amazing products we are working on. I'm really excited about that! From a personal perspective I would love to do some more television work and maybe some writing for a magazine, I'd love to write a book one day!
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