I think it's safe to say that most of us have an appreciation for quilts whether we incorporate them into our decor or not. The skill, craftsmanship, and time that is involved in quilting is rather remarkable- at least to me. And nothing feels better than getting under a cool, cotton quilt during the summertime.
I grew up with quilts that were made by various great aunts, and my parents once gave me a beautiful antique quilt as a birthday present. And while I admire them greatly and do use them from time to time, the quilts remain stored away in the linen closet. I just can't imagine displaying them in my home as they don't quite "go" with the rest of the decor. The quilts are just a little too Americana for my home.
But what about a modern looking quilt? When I saw the photo at top of Albert Hadley's apartment from the 1960s, I was pleasantly surprised with the American quilt that was artfully arranged on the sofa. Here you have a room with silver tea-papered walls, torchères and sconces that once belonged to Syrie Maugham, an animal-print rug, a mirrored cube table... and that quilt on the sofa. And it worked. Mixing the high and the low, the sophisticated with the humble, is not always an easy endeavor, but in the hands of Mr. Hadley, it looked marvelous.
I pulled the one book that I own on quilts, America's Glorious Quilts, and found some contemporary looking antique quilts in all kinds of beautiful colors and designs. The one thing these particular quilts lack is that patchwork look. Those kind of quilts would work well in a Sister Parish type interior. The more graphic looking quilts (like that used by Hadley) could look pretty fantastic in a more modern looking environment.
Diamond in a Square Amish Pieced Quilt, c. 1920. Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Log Cabin Pierced Quilt, Streak O'Lightning Variation, c. 1880. Massachusetts. (This quilt reminded me of Missoni.)
Mariner's Compass Pieced and Appliqued Quilt, c. 1890. Maryland.
Amish Pieced Oblong or Rectangle Quilt, c. 1909, quilted by Mahala Yoder. Indiana. This quilt looks so simple, yet if you look closely at the quilting you'll see tulips, urns, feathers, and birds.
Solomon's Puzzle Amish Pieced Quilt, c. 1940. Ohio. This particular pattern is known as Drunkard's Path- and so appropriate. Can't you see this quilt used as a coverlet on a bed? Or even displayed on a wall as art??
Na Kalaunu (Crowns) Applique Quilt. Before 1918; Hawaiian Islands. I love the naïve motifs on this Hawaiian quilt, and the color combination of lavender and yellow is gorgeous.
(Image of Albert Hadley's apartment from Manhattan Style; quilt photos from America's Glorious Quilts)