Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Living Room Project

I'm delighted to share my client's living room in a historic 1918 cottage. Like all projects, this one is unique. I think this room turned out beautifully, and it shows that antiques can be relevant, young and versatile.

Earlier this year, Jen and Chris purchased a couple items from my shop. Then one thing led to another, and I started helping them with decorating. Sweet, right? First of all, they've been terrific - very patient plus open minded. Jen and Chris were ready to finish the living room fast, but it was important for me to understand how they live - for ex: formal entertaining vs chilling out, etc. Together we slowly worked on discovering their style, which is traditional to transitional. I wanted them to have a living room in which they felt comfortable entertaining their parents as well as friends their age.

Because this is an older cottage, the room is not expansive. Also, it doesn't get a lot of natural light. But, it does have a high ceiling, handsome staircase tucked to the side, charming millwork, and a casual vibe. Everything had already been painted, and they owned a pair of vintage camel-back sofas. I continued the neutral palette so the room could breathe. Tailored pieces were chosen for sophistication and timelessness. Antiques brought in character while accessories from West Elm, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Room & Board added that "current" look.

Let's check it out:
One of the first pieces I placed was this 1800s Swedish Gustavian chest from Tone on Tone. It provides needed storage and, being compact, doesn't get in the way. 
It's important to mix textures and finishes. I found this mid-century style lamp from Crate and Barrel and hoped Jen would approve. Not at first, but now she loves it :) Afterwards, I restyled the vignette using what she already owned: a print with vintage frame and marble bowl (handy for keys, etc).
Here is an overview of the living room. The room needed light so I selected the Reed pendant fixture from Circa - notice the clean, tailored lines. The metal coffee table is from Room & Board. It is narrow, and has a useful lower shelf. Plus it is reasonably priced.
The antique paintings and vintage sunburst mirror are from my shop.
Walls are painted in Benjamin Moore Hush - AF 95.
I chose a wool sisal style staircase runner with very narrow binding. It's installed about 3 inches from the sides (and cut out around the newel post) in the Hollywood style, which is tailored and bespoke. The big area rug is the same, but with a different binding. Larger area rugs do wonders for small spaces!
BELOW: Cool agate coasters from West Elm.
Anchoring the other side of the living room is a brick fireplace with an arched opening - very cottagey! The little drinks tables are from Pottery Barn. The antique giltwood mirror with heavily foxed mercury glass I found in France. 

The previous homeowner had the built-in cabinets installed. Over them is a pair of early 1800s carved wooden finials I brought back from Maine. The finials, with their crusty patina, make the cabinets look less new. Also, the cabinets now are more like pedestals.   
Old and new: Iron candelabra from Pottery Barn and 19th century painting from the Barbizon school, France. The scene in the painting reminds Jen and Chris of Upstate New York, where they vacation with family.
Botanical prints from Hugo Guinness - I selected frames resembling driftwood for an organic look.
Hope you have enjoyed seeing this project. 
Huge thanks to my awesome clients, Jen and Chris!!!
Loi

And for comparison, below is the room before. Excuse the mess... We were working :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Blue Hill Fair: Summer's Last Hurrah

For over 100 years, Mainers and "people from away" (as the locals say) have all joined in the fun and festivities at the Blue Hill Fair held each Labor Day weekend. 

Tom and I went for the first time, and what did we find at this "Downeast" country fair? An explosion for the senses! First, the food: Italian sausages with grilled onions, crispy French fries, hot doughnuts, blueberry and apple pies...all very tempting and lip-smacking good! (Yes, we sampled every one of those.) There was music, entertainment, games and rides, of course - even a petting zoo for the kids (and a few grownups, we spied). Additionally, the fair had livestock shows full of champions from pigs to cows. But, our favorite was checking out the exhibition halls filled with colorful displays of crafts, vegetables as well as flowers in every happy hue of the rainbow.
Speaking of happy colors, we were greeted with the MOST perfect dahlias from our friend Marty's garden. She is a master gardener and member of the Castine Garden Club. Many thanks, Marty!
The exquisite barometer, which Tom and I love very much, was a gift from good friends. Thank you, Gail and Saul!
Now let's check out the fair. On the drive over, I had to snap this vintage truck lost in a field of Queen Anne's Lace flowers.
Welcome to the Blue Hill Fair! We were told by the locals to try the best French fries at King and Queen. Deeeeee-lish :)
This annual fair is held during Labor Day weekend in Blue Hill, Maine.
Beautiful dahlias vying for a prize in one of the exhibition halls. It was a pleasant surprise to find these dahlias still looking so fresh after four days. Labor Day weekend was quite warm, and we visited on the last day.
More flower entries - the competition was fierce!
I was fascinated by these very creative and informative Grange agricultural displays - especially this one from Castine Grange #250.
ABOVE: The moose, lobster, blueberry and pinecone are all synonymous with Maine. 
BELOW: Note the homespun cottons printed in charming patterns.
Another one by a different community Grange organization. 
BELOW: Hi, there! A peek of the judges at work.
Introducing Miss Capela, a grand champion! She is a Belted Galloway (AKA Oreo cow) from Casa Cattle Company, Corinna, Maine. Congratulations to Capela!!
And I leave you with this fabulous autumnal display by the folks at the Ellsworth Garden Club.

Hope your summer was awesome! Welcome back~
Cheers,
Loi 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Blue and White Crush

Blue and white, I've got a crush on you! Always have, always will.

This popular color combination is one of my favorites. I love its familiar yet surprisingly fresh vibe. On Swedish gray surfaces, blue and white looks effortless and lovely. It's cool, calming and crisp against the Gustavian palette. On period brown furniture, I can always count on blue-and-white accents to jazz up these classics. Whether used unabashedly or sprinkled here and there, this color scheme is timeless, versatile and beautiful.

Check out how I incorporate blue and white at our shop.
To cozy up our store, which has three sides of expansive glass walls, I had a small, homey kitchen installed. I designed it to be simple, functional and blue! Simple to complement our inventory of country and formal antiques. Functional for a variety of daily tasks: arranging flowers, washing china, etc. And blue because it looks terrific with pretty much everything, especially our collection of white ironstone.   
- Cabinetry from Tedd Wood
- Farm sink from Kohler
- Fridge (actually a small wine cooler from the cellar of our former home) from U-line
- Marble is Carrara
Currently over the kitchen area is a French Louis Philippe mirror in silver gilt and a large Swedish plate rack with a collection of antique ironstone round platters. The four-tier rack with lower shelf holds both platters and plates.
Along with white, our business cards have similar shades of blue - Pantone #646 and #644.
And the marble-top beadboard sales desk is also blue. 

Now you know where I sit when I'm at the shop. Will that be cash or credit? :) 
No post about blue and white would be complete without a look at china. This color scheme has been used for centuries on Chinese porcelain, Dutch delftware, English ceramics, etc. Staffordshire, England produced some of the best known blue-and-white transferware in the world. I collect and sell both the pale blue Romantic (above) and dark blue Historical pieces (below).
One pattern I cannot resist is "Girl Musician" produced by John and Richard Riley (1796-1828) in Burslem, England. I adore the bucolic scenery complete with country house, meandering river, grazing animals, kneeling shepherd, girl playing the flute, and a border of wild roses - pure bliss! 
Resting on this French Louis XVI (Ca. 1790s) walnut side table is a graduated set of 3 platters from Wedgwood. The French classical style armchair is upholstered in a velvety blue cotton.
BELOW: These items have all sold, but I am sharing this photo to show how a dash of blue and white can liven up a dark wood surface.
A pair of French bergeres (Ca. 1890-1900s) in a greige paint with all new blue-gray Belgian linen upholstery. This Louis XVI model with the rectangular backrest happens to be my favorite type of bergeres. When I come across these, I will splurge on the down-filled seat cushions. I love how they "pop" next to French occasional table's mahogany surface - that's the beauty of mixing finishes! Pillow fabric is from Carlton V.
ABOVE: A blue painted Swedish desk against Gustavian oak doors at a friend's manor home in Sweden. BELOW: The same manor house with a Gustavian chair in a printed linen. Both the desk and chair I purchased and sold a while ago.
Playing it cool! Two collages showing accents of blue and white on gray surfaces. These pieces have all sold - apologies!
Last but not least, blue and white looks dazzling with Mocha, our sassy 14-year old Tibetan Terrier in need of a good brushing!

Thanks for visiting our store ~
Cheers,
Loi