Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adelphi Paper Hangings

Many times I am amazed at the vibrancy of color and the intricacy of pattern of antique wallpapers and fabrics. I think that there is a misconception that many of these historical patterns were limited to florals and damasks with an occasional Chinoiserie or Neo-Classical print thrown in for good measure. How untrue! Some of our ancestors, if they had the means, chose to live surrounded by some pretty snazzy patterns.

Adelphi Paper Hangings is a wonderful source for block printed reproductions of historical wallpapers. Many of their clients are museums and historical homes, but they do sell to designers too. Some of the prints do seem a little dated for a modern home, but a majority of them would, in my opinion, fit right in to a contemporary design scheme. How about that fantastic "Plymouth Ashlar" (above) in an entryway? Or the "Hamilton Urns Stenciled" in a powder room? What means the most to me, though, is the fact that there are artisans and scholars whose passion is keeping this part of design history alive.

"Pagodas", English, circa 1763. This Chinoiserie print was used in the Jeremiah Lee Mansion (1768), Marblehead, Massachusetts. The colors seen here are the original colorway.

"Hamilton Urns Stenciled", Boston, 1787-90. According to Adelphi, this print is "one of the earliest examples of American neo-classical wallpaper design." I think the graphic nature of this print makes it a viable print for today.

"Laurel Trellis", French, 1800-15. Think the popularity of Trellis is limited to the 20th and 21st centuries? Well, this print was discovered adorning a wedding box that was made in Paris in 1804.

"Pebbles and Flowerpots", Philadelphia, c. 1810. This wallpaper was hung in the dining room of Pope Villa, Lexington, Kentucky. The grisaille tones and the trompe l'oeil pebble design make this print truly stunning.

"Pineapples", American, c. 1845. Stylish in the 19th c., equally so today!

Image at top: "Plymouth Ashlar", French or American, c. 1805-25. Ashlar papers were characterized by faux masonry blocks that were usually adorned with some type of ornamentation. These papers were generally used in hallways and stairwells (high traffic areas), and when an area began to show signs of wear, a new "block" could be applied over the affected area only. No need to hang new sheets of paper.

Monday, July 30, 2007

"Books Serve as Decoration"

How best to display books? This question seems to ignite passionate discussion. The first issue one should decide is whether to display books with the dust jackets on or off (I'm quite a fan of dust jacket art, so I choose to leave them on. This, however, is strictly a personal preference). Many designers who dislike the "randomness" of a sea of dust jackets choose to cover books in white muslin or paper, thereby creating a visually cohesive look. I would suggest this only for prop books; if you use your library for reference, you might be driven crazy by this design trick.

Once this thorny issue has been solved, then one must figure out how to incorporate their books into their decor. Do you display only books in your bookshelves, or do you incorporate a few decorative accessories as well (no tchotchkes please!). Do you organize them by color? By subject? By size? Or, do you forgo bookshelves altogether for stacks of books on tables and the floor?

Believe it or not, this topic of discussion was on the minds of designers and design devotees alike over seventy years ago. I found a brief article in a January 1936 issue of House & Garden titled "Books Serve as Decoration". Here is what the editors had to say:

So colorful are book bindings that, when used in large groups, they play a definite part in the color scheme of a room. They should be treated as a decoration. Two examples show practical application of this principle. In the room above, the depth of the wall made it possible to mass books as a colorful surrounding to a door between rooms. In the Chicago apartment of David B. Stern (below), they form a wide panel background to the desk and enhance the interest of the wall (Samuel A. Marx, architect in both instances).

OK, so this article didn't shed any light on the dust jacket issue, but it is interesting to see this acknowledgment of the importance of books in decor.
(Noted New York 20th c. furniture dealer Liz O'Brien has written a book on architect and designer Samuel Marx which will be published this fall: UltraModern: Samuel Marx Architect, Designer, Art Collector. You can also see some of his furniture designs on 1st dibs.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blue and White Bedrooms

Is it just me, or does blue and white seem to be one of the most popular color combinations for bedrooms? Certainly it makes sense- blue is soothing and serene (very important in a bedroom!) and white is clean and calming. On top of that, there are so many great blue and white prints that just seem so perfect for bedrooms. I think it's safe to say that a floral print for the bedroom is one of the most popular options. Soft blue and white is a very traditional and classic choice, but if you want to punch up your bedroom with some zing, why not try a turquoise shade like Betsy Burnham does below?

A mix of blue and white prints used with aplomb by Markham Roberts

A children's bedroom by designer Meg Braff

A snappy little bedroom in the home of Todd Romano

The use of turquoise in this bedroom gives this bedroom a little more energy than a paler shade would. (Design by Betsy Burnham.)

Photo at top: Bedroom designed by Charlotte Moss for the 2006 Kips Bay Show house

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Crazy for Columns

Columns have long had a secondary use as decorative accessories in interiors. Whether you choose to use a real column or simply an item that incorporates this motif (like the column table, below), this classic symbol is sure to add some "order" to one's room.

Painted Italian column tables from Kevin Stone Antiques & Interiors

Shell encrusted columns from Christa's South Seashells- very Tony Duquette!

Early 20th c. British Neoclassical columns from Thomas Jolly Antiques

Aesthetic Faux Marble columns, available at Southall

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Inspiring Rooms of the Week

A few rooms that I find inspiring:

A living room designed by Ruthie Sommers. With Billy Haines as her inspiration, Sommers has struck a very luxe, glamorous tone here! (Photo courtesy of Domino).

Shocking pink room designed by Ralph Harvard. Now this is bold, updated traditional! (I think Schiaparelli might feel at home here.)

A sweet bedroom designed by Nancy Boszhardt. I really like the paisley fabric the designer used for the curtains, the border on the walls, and the headboard. Very feminine!

A chic tableau, again designed by Nancy Boszhardt. Does this scream "Manhattan" or what?

Jewel tones are making a comeback in fashion (how very 1980s!), so why not in interior design too? (A Kips Bay Showhouse room designed by Christopher Maya. Photo courtesy of House Beautiful)

Dining room in the home of Suzanne Rheinstein- so very elegant and sophisticated, and is that chandelier not to die for?? (Photo courtesy of Domino)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Birdcages Part II

While I was searching for antique birdcages for yesterday's post, I came across a few wallpaper prints that incorporate aviaries. Some are drop-dead gorgeous, like the handpainted paper from Gracie, while others are a little cutesy (such as that from Thibaut). Just another way to add a little humor or a little beauty to one's walls!

"Cotillion" wallpaper from Tyler Hall

Handpainted scene by Gracie

"Birdcage" wallpaper from Thibaut

Image at top: "Birdcage Walk" wallpaper by Nina Campbell for Osborne and Little

Monday, July 23, 2007

Antique Aviaries

Antique birdcages are great decorative accents- not only do they look fantastic, they are multi-purpose too. Of course, if you'd like to use them for their original purpose, by all means go ahead. But, if the idea of taking care of a pet bird is not your thing, then why not consider using a birdcage as a display case (as in the home above). What better way in which to display your cabinet of curiosities? Or, you could leave them empty, as in the photo below. Either way, these little architectural gems are sure to add a little whimsy to one's home.

French birdcage, 1950s, at Wilson Antiques

French metal birdcage, c. 1940-50, at Linda and Howard Stein

Wrought Iron Bird Cage, early 20th c., at Architectural Artifacts

Faux Bois Birdcage, French, 1920s, at Collins & McCullough

Antique birdcage in an Atlanta home designed by John Oetgen (House Beautiful, Aug '07)

(Image at top from Southern Accents)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Shiny Lighting

My latest addition to my design wish list? A brass lamp with a shiny brass shade. Of course the ultimate, at least to me, would be to own one by Maison Charles. While I'm waiting for that fantasy to be fulfilled, I might just purchase one from Gracious Home (seen below). I've been on a brass kick lately, but if you prefer a cooler metal, there are plenty of striking chrome lamps out there. And if the thought of all of this metal seems a little cold, just look at how well this type of lamp works in Kate Spade's apartment.

Maison Charles lamps at Maison Gerard

Nickel Drum Shade Lantern at Charles Edwards

Markel nickel lamp at Modernism Gallery

Maison Charles "Pomme de pin" lamp at Maison Gerard

Parzinger lamp at Dana John

Brass Table Lamp at Gracious Home

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hit Parade- Chinoiserie Prints

Have you had enough of me talking about Chinoiserie prints? I hope I don't sound like a broken record, but I truly don't think I could live without having something Chinoiserie in my home (how's that for drama!). Since I've never met a Asian print that I didn't like, it was hard for me to narrow my choices down, but here are a few that have struck my fancy.

"China Rose" chintz by Scalamandre

"Ping" linen by Scalamandre (this is my favorite- I have two armchairs upholstered in this print but in a glazed cotton.)

"Les Fetes d'Orient" by Clarence House

"Kings Dynasty" at Lewis & Sheron

"Masquerade" fabric by Thibaut

"Tea House" wallpaper by Thibaut

"Fishing Village" fabric by Thibaut

"Marco Polo" wallpaper by Thibaut

Photo at top: "Shanghai" fabric by Scalamandre