Archive for the 'furniture' Category

22
Jan
08

A Ghost in Winter

John and I stopped in Saturday night at Lara and Frank’s house for dinner and to play with their Wii. Lucie, their five-year old, smoked me at bowling, but she made my Mii avatar look much thinner than I am in real life so all was forgiven.

Food 025

Lara’s style is traditional with a twist, so this Louis Ghost Armchair fits right nicely into their house, as I’m convinced it would in almost any space. And I’m always amazed by how comfortable this chair is. Fun and elegant at the same time, too.

Also loved all of the light and mercury glass in the living room, which adds much needed sparkle during these dim and melancholy winter months.

Food 027

Since the glass pieces are holiday decorations, there was some discussion between Lara and Frank about how much to leave up and for how long. I’ll go ahead and weigh in by saying I think they should keep all of it out until taxes are due.

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10
Dec
07

Design Past, Present and Future

It took a 19th century near death experience to get him there, but once Ebenezer Scrooge finally caught his clue he declared that he would keep Christmas past, present and future always before him. In the interior design world I get the impression that most people are a combination of past, present, and future with an emphasis on one more than the others.

I love contemporary design, I really do. Clean, spare lines and an emphasis on materials totally enchant me in public spaces. But for some reason I can only live with a little of it at a time in our home – a danish modern coffee table in our hearth area, a sputnik lamp, which I have yet to hang in our guest bedroom (makes me wonder if I’m subconsciously resisting it even when I love it), and our newish sofa.
New Sofa

The first two of these could hardly be considered contemporary since they were made in the 60s. And the sofa has traditional, even if spare lines.

Sometimes I wonder why I can’t shake a traditional bent. Not that I’m unhappy with our home. Quite the opposite, I love it. This Saturday John and I were sitting in the kitchen drinking our morning coffee, Sam (our wood stove) quietly blazing before us.
Sam

We were talking about how we’d rather be hanging out in our house than in any hotel we could possibly think of (at least at that particular moment), which is a good thing since we pour our spare change into the house and not into big vacations. It is full of stuff that means something to us – family treasures or finds. Auction scores, those trophies from furniture safari’s with John’s mom.

But I like to think of myself as progressive–socially, spiritually, politically. Even when I work in art museums, though I love the earlier pieces, I prefer to spend the bulk of my time with art less than a century old. Why then, when we built our new house five years ago, did we look at southern, country antecedents? Am I a closet conservative?

I suppose part of the answer can be found in how I was raised, not just the regional influence (the Arkansas Ozarks), but the people who did the job. We never had a ton of money so we learned to value the things, fine or not, that we saw at our family gatherings. Plus the 70s had that whole “back to our country’s roots”, folk thing going, which my Aunt Judy turned into a subtle, but elegant homey art form that totally worked.

Then there was my friend Felley’s mom, also named Judy. I know it is a chronological impossibility, but I’m convinced that Margaret Mitchell based Melanie Wilkes on my friend’s mother, who even looks for all the world like Olivia de Havilland, I swear. In addition to her sweetness, charm and patience (I always showed up at her house after school ready for a snack and was never, to my recollection, rebuffed or disappointed), she also had an incredibly refined, but remarkably approachable sense of style.

She was never self-conscious enough to speak in such terms,  but I learned from Miss Judy to think of interior design as one of the three essential tools of hospitality–the other two being good food and genuine thoughtfulness, two things my mom could have written the book on.

For Miss Judy, every furniture purchase or placement choice seemed to be with a visitor’s comfort and timeless style in mind. Those two things became fused together in my psyche because of her, I think. One of my sweetest memories is of sitting on her fabulous, dark blue chintz Chinois floral patterned sofa with her as she talked me through my smorgasbord of adolescent problems.

Then there is my own mom. She also has great design sense, but the most valuable lessons I learned from her were to keep it fun and to never be afraid of color, especially red. And when you get stuck, call a designer (luckily she has a friend and next door neighbor who is one). And never apply your lipstick with the aid of a compact mirror when you’re in public. Oh wait, that was what my sister learned. Sorry.  

So maybe it’s because I’m so attached to these people, ideas and memories that I keep my feet rooted in a traditional style. From a design point of view the south is frequently criticized for being retardataire. I suspect my own observations may point to why that is, if it is. I guess for me the past is a vital part of the present and the future. Maybe there’s nothing I can do about that, and maybe I should stop feeling the need to apologize for it.           

27
Nov
07

Christmas Time’s A Comin’

Busy getting ready for the holidays, but wanted to show you a few finds. Mom, Dave and I went to the Country Friends Open House last Saturday. They had even more holiday stuff out than they did a week before. The holly and greenery at Country Friends is particularly good this year. I got this variegated type for our back porch chandelier because it had kind of a vintage look to it.

Porch Chandelier

I usually mix real with artificial, in this case with Frasier Fir remains trimmed from our tree. My mom got a more sage-colored, dusty green holly (sorry, I forgot to take pictures) that came in sprays as well as a garland. It was beautiful and more subtle than my garish taste usually allows me to get away with.

While poking around for Christmas I also found this red David Smith Windsor chair.

Red Chair
We just painted our mudroom from red to the same deep eggplant color that is in our kitchen and I was missing the red just a little. The chair scratches that itch and gives me something light to pull into the kitchen when we have more guests than chairs around Sam (our woodstove).

I kind of like the way it looks next to this sweet wreath Dave made us just in time for the holidays. Dave’s wreaths are normally more restrained.

Wreath
He said he made a conscious effort to make this one look like it was about to whirl off the door (even used bird feathers) because he knows I like wreaths that , well, look like they are about whirl off the door. Not sure why, but I do favor spiral shaped wreaths. Though the one I have for the front door seems pretty subdued in comparison. Pam at J. P. Parker flowers remade this one from an old one I had.

Reworked Wreath

I was so glad my mom and dad came up this past weekend. They helped us get our tree decorated and mom helped me haul out and place all of the “stuff.” I really don’t mind doing it, but having help always makes it a lot more fun.

17
Oct
07

Living Room Touch Ups

Picked up the reupholstered side chairs from T and H upholstery (cost to upholster 2 side chairs and to make three pillows from leftover fabric=$165.00). The chairs, along with the rug, the new sofa (the one on the right), and a few accessories finished the touch ups to the living room.

Living Room After

A before shot:

Living Room Before

The infamous sofa:

New Sofa

Here are the pillows T & H made for me.

Tulip Pillows

I’ve ordered down inserts, but T and H was kind enough to put some fiber fill ones in them so I could still pick them up and enjoy them. The trim is from JoAnne fabrics, and I bought all they had, which wasn’t much. Jean at T & H told me today that a new fabric place has just opened up in Indy- Heritage Fabric and Design Center at 6951 E 30th St. She said their selection is really good. I’m pretty stoked to have a new fabric resource since I’ll probably avoid Calico Corners for awhile. I’ll try to visit this new spot and post about it soon.

I originally bought the tulip fabric for the chairs, but the pattern was too big so I used the stripe leftover from the bedroom wingback instead. Even the stripe is a bit too big, but I needed to use up some of my supply. Every once in a while I have to throw my practical side a bone.

Chair

14
Sep
07

More on Neutrals with Color

More from September’s Elle Decor. Here is a better shot of Marjorie Gubelmann’s living room. I love the scale and finish of the hanging lantern.

Living room

And here is her dining room with its spectacular hand-painted Gracie wallpaper, proving neutral rooms are happy to live near big color walls. I find it hard to believe that I’ve never had a room this color green. I’ve always loved it.

Green dining room copy

Side note: In Bob Altman’s glamorously stuffy Gosford Park,
gosfordparkpic
a great source of design inspiration if you need it, the billiard room (the room pictured above is actually the drawing room in the film. I couldn’t find a still of the BR but you get the glamour point) is glazed the same color green as the wallpaper above. I think the billiard room is under-painted with yellow. Whatever the technique, the effect gives the space a sturdy glow. In Gubelmann’s dining room, the silver of the Venetian mirrors, the shimmering chandelier, and the small scale of the black bamboo chairs keep the room light and airy. I love it.

18
Jul
07

Patterns, Color and Winterthur Revisited

I’m intrigued by how good designers mix patterns. Henry F. DuPont’s, Winterthur, is a great place to see a seemingly infinite number of ways to do it.

I took John there for his birthday a few years back because I knew he would enjoy the craftsmanship of some of the finest examples of wood furniture in the U.S. As DuPont turned his estate into a survey of high quality non-native American furniture (approximately Empire and before), he also created a giant canvas on which to layer his talent for putting rooms together (and gardens, but that’s another post).

Julie and I have been exchanging comments lately about color in neutral rooms. While the elements of DuPont’s dining room are a little more reserved than Julie’s more worldly style, the basic idea of using color with a neutral background is here—the fabrics carry the color.

Dining Room

The architectural elements are allowed to shine on their own with a neutral coat of paint (more of an oyster than the pinkish color you see here), and maybe a few highlights (see the trim on the doors). The rich wood of the furniture also gets to play a major role.

I like that the drapery fabric and the chair covers are the same medium sized pattern. Sometimes I think I’m afraid to use a fabric in other parts of the same room. I don’t know why (maybe it’s an attempt to avoid the catalog look). But a few repeated fabrics, even a vibrant stripe like this one, can give a room unity of design, calming the space. If I remember correctly the stripe and the large pattern of the rug are the only two fabric patterns in the room and the differences in scale work well together.

floating staircase

The stair hall (not a great picture, sorry) is an even more refined space, with light and airy Federalist pieces, which play nicely with the floating staircase – delicate, but sturdy. Anyway, the green of the settee fabric, which in another application might be considered bank-ish or too heavy handed looks downright understated in this setting.

chinese parlor 2. jpg

There’s nothing understated about the Chinese parlor. I love it, with all of its game and tea tables everywhere (mostly, if not all, American Rococo, aka Chippendale), and that great (in every sense of the word) wallpaper that makes you feel like a character in a giant storybook. The whole room is a big, elegant play room for grown-ups, but really, wouldn’t kids be happy here, too?

chinese parlor

I’ve never worked with pattern on the scale of this wallpaper, but I like it, especially that DuPont made it work with two large rugs and the large pattern in the two different green damasks. The sturdy forms of the furniture ground things. And now that I look at it so do the drapery and sofa fabrics, which even though they are a damask pattern read as a solid when seen next to the wallpaper.

If you are a furniture/design or even a garden buff, Winterthur is well worth a trip for inspiration.

10
Jul
07

Bedroom Befores and Afters

So here’s the room (sans bookcase, not here yet). Before pics follow.

Master Bedroom

Bedroom Befores

Sitting Area

Bedroom Befores

Sitting area 3

Last Friday I picked up the 8’ x 10’ jute rug from Lowe’s ($168.00 – I’m almost afraid of how cheap it was, makes me wonder if the jute is hiding some exotic parasite or something) and a palm from Costco ($20.00-John’s mom gave me that tip).

Nightstand

Dave and I foraged through T. J. Maxx, William Sonoma Home and Pottery Barn for accessories on Saturday. Found some decent deals (especially at WS Home—candles and a great nautilus shell, which they sold to me even though I think it may have been for display only) and a very cool carved tree root basket from T. J. Max, which we thought John would like (he did). Had to go back on Sunday to return a few items, but not many.

Oh, and I found really good plant deals at Smith and Hawkin. I usually don’t even bother going in there (a little out of my league), but I was sort of desperate for something already potted (even I get tired of shopping eventually). P.S. Did you know S & H offers complimentary potting services for any plant you buy there?

Sleeping area

I wish I were a better photographer. You can’t see the rug under the bed very well. The bedding is from Target, except for the square pillow (Pottery Barn) and the bed skirt which we already had. It’s wrong how much I love Target.

Sleeping area

I think my favorite new things are the chandeliers. They’re drippy and sparkly (you all know I like some razzle with my dazzle). Oh, and I went with the poly sheers. They look pretty good. I probably would have loved the silk organza, but I decided the sunlight would decimate them in a couple of years, and for the money, well, it was $80.00 vs. $240.00 and this was a budget job.

John and I both read a lot in our room, so I still have to bring the books back in (maybe just not all of them) and get the leather piece made for the small chest. We want the room to have a little bit of a library as well as a “Bahamanian” (as Dave says) feel to it, to it. It doesn’t without the bookcase and our usual stacks of books everywhere.

I’m having to enjoy the beachy serenity alone this week. John is gone to Puerto Rico for work again (ugh!). At least he has a nice retreat to come home to. He says he really likes it, though I know it’s hard to compete with an actual beach.

Thanks to all of you who gave us moral support and expertise. And to those of you who contributed time, talent, product and trouble (Linda, Dave, and Mindy), we owe you.   Our psyches are eternally grateful.