Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mining the Middle Ages for Inspiration

I've never been one for the medieval look. And I never thought about crenellations until Frances Elkins: Interior Design came out a few years back. I fell head over heels for this bedroom above. Used by David Adler when he visited Elkins' Monterrey, CA home, the room had a crenellated bed canopy and window valance. How chic was that? And in Elkins' deft hands, the room did not look like King Arthur inhabited it!

Now obviously no one would want to go crazy with crenellations or your home might end up looking like a medieval castle. But, one crenellated object never hurt anyone. After all, Elkins and Adler gave it their seal of approval!

In case you're wondering what a crenellation is, Merriam Webster has this diagram on its site. The number "1" indicates a crenellation.

Crenellated mirror by The Squires Company, available through Decorati

Castellated Bracket Lantern by Charles Edwards. Seeing this fabulous lantern yesterday set me off on this whole crenellation tangent.

Crenellated nailshead design on these custom chairs by Ceylon et Cie

A modern twist on crenellations on this 1960s table at Ellen Ward Scarborough

Of course the classic Monteith bowl has crenellated edges. This one by Tiffany & Co.


  1. I like it too. Reminds me of the cabana-like thing Nick Olsen did around the table in his apartment -- at least I think it had crenellations?

  2. I love that word! When I started working in a castle, I found a dictionary of terms that were used in castles, like portcullus... It came in very handy!

  3. I love the look. I thinks it works especially well for a man's apartment where you want embellishment but
    nothing too feminine.

  4. WOW - where have you been all my life. Just found you on one of my readers' sidebar. Great post - gonna have to surf the rest of your blog!

  5. Anonymous9:46 PM

    I’m sorry I don’t have anything to add to the discussion of crenellation but I must say that that Casa Amesti is a beautiful house!!

    From all the pictures I’ve seen over the years its chocked full of the kind of elements that I think make up a truly great house: age (1833), excellent proportions, curious unexpected details, a great architecturally styled garden, high ceilings, symmetry and a tall narrow pair of painted blue and white front doors. I hope some day to see it in person.

  6. Gorgeous!! The bedroom is so wonderful -- feminine but not fussy! And sexy too -- with a "come hither to my bedchamber" look -- very "The Tudors"! LOL! Love the lantern and those chairs are simply marvellous! Even the silver bowl -- filled with a all-white/silvery-gray floral arrangement would be beautiful on a side table.

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  7. Not to be negative, but what I love about medieval design is the dark Gothic furniture, the tapestries, the mullioned windows, etc. The interiors here are basically Danish modern in bright happy colors with a bit of theme-park crenelation.

    It's chic, but too dainty for me.

  8. Great post, the crenelations, and your research is wonderful. I love the lantern!

  9. I love the writer....Stephen Salny! all his books! And did you know.....Frances Elkins was David Adler's sister?!?

    They were a fabulous team.......he the architect.....she the decorator.........

    and he stayed in Chicago..........and she moved to and lived in California! Her house in Monterey is also a house museum!

    The writer.....Stephen Salny, in the first edition.of his book on David Adler..................had a photo that he said was "uncredited"....of an amazing small room with carved wood valances and two stories........just sensational........

    I had just seen the house museum "Beauport" I wrote him.....and told him the room was in this house museum! (before email...I wrote a letter!

    He wrote me back...... a letter!! Can you believe it!?!

    he wrote me : (to the best of my memory)

    "Henry David Sleeper would be very flattered to know that I have received many letters that identified the photo as his library in Massachusetts.......and thank you so much for writing me!"


    Stephen Salny is a brilliant writer.....and a very nice man.......I think his latest book is about Michael Taylor?

    or someone I love.......

    just a little color thrown in here! Love this blog!


    crenellations are anything.....restraint........or NOT!!!!

    Elsie had amazing crenellated awnings.......(NOT SCALLOPED!)!!!!!!!!!!

    Scalloped awnings.............EWWWW!!!