Whether you love him or want to shove a sock in his smart mouth, there’s one thing you can’t deny about Sherlock Holmes: the man’s brilliant style. Yes, his style. For all his enviable brains, the only thing he does that we can recreate in our own lives is his effortless Victorian boho London flat: 221B Baker Street. Sadly for most of us, we can neither afford a two-bedroom place in the NW1 post-code (though Marylebone is delightful; fantastic bookstores, do visit) nor the live-in Mrs. Hudson who keeps the place from sliding into the dingy end of bohemian.
What we can achieve though, is the effortless charm of mismatched, Victorian-inspired brilliance with the modern twist that BBC’s “Sherlock” has so perfectly captured. To do so, we don’t need to go broke, we just have to master the ever important statement pieces that give it that detective air.
The Nod to Britain
I’m sorry “Elementary” lovers, but there is no 221B without its intrinsically British flair. No, you don’t need a bust of the Queen or a lingering smell of curry—we’re going for inspired instead of truly authentic. But that means bringing in the feel of London with some subtle accents. My personal favorite is an Ali Miller tea set, two of which have been used on “Sherlock.” Ali’s avant-garde style is not your grandmother’s Brown Betty—with its half-Rorschach, half-British Empire design, her “Home Sweet Home” set has a gorgeous black ink map of the UK & Ireland. Combine it with a faded vintage Union Jack flag pillow or if you’re feeling very bold, wallpaper a map of London on the walls (cheaper alternative: buy a map of London on Etsy).
This where you thrift-shop bargain hunters can shine. Sure, you can spend a couple hundred buying the perfect Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters velvet chairs or leather sofa, or you could do some detective work of your own and hit the antique stores, yard sales, and thrift shops. The trick is a bizarre combo of mid-century and Victorian, so clean accent lines, plush cushions, and the last thing it should look is new. Places like World Market have affordable versions such as this Kendel Velvet in darker blue with the chesterfield buttons that would be a perfect spot to lie in your thinking pose and deduce your neighbors’ hijinks from the sound of the feet on the stairs.
A Bit of Boho, A Tad Eccentric
In many ways Sherlock Holmes coined the uptight boho combo by living the avant-garde lifestyle while being deliciously buttoned up, and your place should give the same nod. Perhaps an Oriental rug knockoff ready to slowly age into delightful mustiness? While Sherlock’s bull’s skull might not be to your liking, you could add a hint of it with an antler jewelry holder. And naturally you can’t forget the ever present fireplace and smokey smell, but for those of us lacking such features, a 221B candle would suffice.
Books, Books & More Books
Of course if you’re going to live in a Boffin’s apartment, you need it to be a bastion of knowledge. And what better way to accessorize your space than with beautiful books? Antique stores, used book stores, and estate sales are a bastion of resources for building your own book collection. Old books are a delightful source of that comforting smell of a well-worn friend; they are often inexpensive (yes even hardbacks, just avoid the early editions) and they give a space a distinct personality. We’re also in the height of a glorious graphic-design heyday in which classic books are getting imaginative and gorgeous covers that you’ll want to stare at all day. Juniper Books has a seemingly endless collection of classics and fan favorites in countless designs to let you personalize your bookshelves (we’re a big fan of the Penguin Classics).
So don your detective cap and start hunting down your favorite finds on the weekend. More than any other inspired design theme, this one plays best to those willing to get their hands dirty and hit the lesser frequented areas for inexpensive finds that will transport your home to England without the London commuter tax.
If you’re hankering for exact replicas from Sherlock, Sherlockology has a props list!