The Idealist

Midcentury Modern Mix and Match

While checking out the design shopping in Liverpool, we caught up with Michael Chantler, a senior leader in the NHS, who was born and bred in the city and is fiercely proud of its history and its sense of style. Michael lives in a Victorian cottage in Gateacre village, Liverpool and describes his style as midcentury modern meets unique antique.  He combines high street shopping with unique finds and has a passion for midcentury art and furniture pieces and for high quality modern and antique wood.

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IDEALIST: What’s your favourite local store?

Michael: That’s a tough one. We’re lucky in Liverpool to have a mix of high street stores, distinctive design shops, and some great antique shops. If I had to pick one shop, it would be John Lewis, or maybe Utility. They have some beautiful lighting and carry many design classics such as Eames and George Nelson.

IDEALIST: Why did you settle in Gateacre?

Michael: I previously lived in central Liverpool in a modern development close to the Tate and the Albert Dock, but I was keen to find a property that had some character and some history. Many urban places get called villages these days, when really they are just part of a city, but partly thanks to the greenery and its characteristic old houses, Gateacre has a genuine village feel and is right next to Woolton, which has a village square surrounded by cafes, an old-style cinema showing one film a week (complete with ice cream intermission) and a couple of great restaurants owned by Simon Rimmer. Working in a high profile job for the NHS, I wanted somewhere within easy reach of the city’s hospitals, but with enough calm and tranquility to feel like an escape.

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IDEALIST: What attracted you to the cottage?

Michael: It had already been partly (and very sympathetically) restored, with a new kitchen and bathroom, but many original features had been retained, like the fireplaces in both of the downstairs receptions. I loved the bare walls and neutral decor and with space at a premium, I wanted to maintain a sense of lightness and flow by introducing a few well-chosen pieces, rather than filling the place with clutter. It’s still a work in progress, as time allows. A few of my friends have asked me why pictures are propped against the wall or on the mantlepieces rather than hung up, but I love the informal feel that gives.

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IDEALIST: What’s your favourite find?

Michael: Right now, I’d say the up cycled washstand I have in the main bedroom. It’s from REX in Liverpool and has a wonderful patina and also a playfulness you don’t see often in modern pieces.

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IDEALIST: And if the house was on fire and you could only save one thing?

Michael: Ouch. That’s a really tough question. I’m very fond of the gold angle poise and the sideboard it stands on (both from John Lewis) that are in the dining room, but things like that can always be replaced. I’d save a vintage print I have about travelling in winter on the underground. I love the style of graphic and commercial art from the 1930s-1950s, and those kind of pieces are getting harder to find.

IDEALIST: Any antiquing tips you’d like to share with our readers?

Michael: I bought a dining table once from eBay which I couldn’t resist: a 1970s scandi classic in teak with just the kind of look I was trying to create. I drove down to Birmingham to pick it up to find that it was exactly as described, aged but beautiful and a sight to behold, so I brought it back happily. The only problem is that it was far too big for the room and you would have had to climb over it to get through to the living room. So, check your dimensions. Always check your dimensions.

  • John is a photographer and journalist from Manchester with a passion for street photography and modern art. When not taking photos, you can find him on a bike anywhere from Sardinia to Amsterdam listening to Zero 7.

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