Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Swedish Style Cottage

I remember selling, from my very first shipment, a Swedish sideboard to a couple wanting to freshen-up their screened porch.  Upon delivering the sideboard, I suggested converting their porch into a conservatory with the following: change the laminate wood floors to slate (to tie in with the exterior terrace); replace the screens with glass windows and transoms (to make the conservatory a year round room); and, paint the ceiling a dove grey (to complement the new slate floor and Swedish sideboard). 

Thrilled with the look of their new conservatory, the couple--now dear friends--decided the rest of their home needed updating. While the home was full of period charm and mahogany antiques, it felt dark and enclosed.   

Nearly a decade later, this is now a light filled home with new French doors, bleached floors, warm gray walls, and Swedish antiques to complement the couple’s many collections. From American folk art to antique Persian carpets, I love how this home showcases the versatility of Swedish antiques.  

Please enjoy my photos of this lovely home rich with patina, history and charm.
The living room with Gustavian clock, Rococo tea table & American wingback chair.
Gustavian armchair & French screen anchoring a corner. Sofa from John Rosselli. Embroidered pillow from Chelsea Textiles.
The mantel is styled with antiques: vellum books, American weathervane & French mirror.
The conservatory with verdant views. I found the pair of Belgian clubchairs in Brussels.
Early American painted chair next to primitive bench with potted herbs & plants.
To open up the room, I removed the carpet & glass door on the built-in cabinet, allowing the creamware collection to be admired & used daily.
I knew this diminutive Swedish chest would be perfect under the American portrait.
A folksy Swedish candelabra illuminates, by candlelight, suppers in the dinning room.
 I want to thank Michelle & her husband for allowing us to tour their very special home! I am so grateful to have worked on their project :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Blue Garden

I am a huge fan of the color blue! Versatile blue can be cool and calm, soft and pastel, or bold and electric. My kitchen cupboards at Tone on Tone are a shade of cornflower blue. The color palette of my new home office is white, blue and beige. Much of the antique Swedish furniture I find is painted blue. And, I will always love English blue-and-white transferware china!

When it came time to design the rear garden, I chose many blue blooming plants. Along with blues are whites, lavenders, silvers and grays---colors of the sky. Some of the plants include:

Russian Sage - Perovskia
Catmint - Nepeta
Variegated Dogwood - Cornus Alba
Verbena Bonariensis
Bluebeard - Caryopteris
Hyssop - Agastache

Hopefully this garden will mature into an ethereal cloud garden with softness and movement. Here is a sneak peek of this fairly new garden.

 The blue garden is at the rear of the house. Blooming are Camassia bulbs.
Below the antique chimney pot are blue pansies. To the right is variegated dogwood (Cornus Alba). 
Starting to bloom are blue false indigo (Baptisia) perennials.
The above photo was taken in autumn 2011. Here are Verbena Bonariensis, Lavender Hidcote, and Buddleia.
This lavender blue columbine (Aguilegia) was just planted last week.
A close up look at lovely Camassia bulbs.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

White Ironstone China

At about 14 years old, I purchased my first piece of antique white ironstone china at an estate sale.  It was a small creamer that was part of a frilly Victorian coffee set.  I have no idea what happened to it, but I do remember paying very little.  Today I still buy white ironstone creamers (less frilly, happy to say), and am paying a lot more (unhappy to say).

What is antique white ironstone?  To keep it simple, it is an opaque, white glazed form of earthenware / pottery made for everyday use.  What I like to refer to as humble chinaware.  Many European countries--from England to Sweden--produced white ironstone, especially during the mid 19th Century.  It was also made in America.

It’s simplicity, versatility, and durability makes it one of the most sought after collectibles.  I love to display and use this humble china.  Enjoy these photos from my home and shop, Tone on Tone.

  English white ironstone banded barrel jugs from Tone on Tone.

 Swedish footed bowl. I use these deep bowls for serving salads.

 Group of French white pots with Swedish antique furniture.

 Tall pitchers, cafe au lait handle-less cups, and cakestands from my shop.

 Water and dairy pitchers.

I love using footbaths as cache pots. This was in my former kitchen.

My current collection in the kitchen. The seed pods are dried alliums.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Myrtle Topiaries

I have been growing myrtle topiaries as houseplants for nearly 10 years.  I favor the small leaf variety myrtus communis compacta, which is great for shaping.  And, yes, I lost quite a few early on :(  

Here are growing tips on these finicky gems:

- Plenty of sunlight. Keep in sunroom or bright window with south / west exposure.
- Water! So important to not let them dry out. But, they should not sit in water for hours. Be diligent about watering topiaries that are root bound, which require frequent watering (and repotting eventually).   
- During the growing season (late March - early September), I use a liquid fertilizer (miracle grow in green bottle) once a month when I remember :)
- Many say to mist them, but I don’t bother as that is messy.
- To maintain a tight spherical form, clip often during the growing season. Do not shear or cut the leaves. Instead, snip at the branches / shoots. Where you snip a shoot two others will branch out, creating a fuller plant.   
- Do not place on heat register or radiator, unless you want them fried! 
- Move and rotate so they get the required sunlight. I switch out the pair on the mantel (of a dark room) with another pair from the conservatory every 4-5 days.
- I use a mild insecticidal soap spray if bugs are present.

Myrtle topiaries do require a level of care, but they are quite easy once you get the hang.  I especially love them in pairs on a mantel shelf, on a console table, or flanking the front door.

 I've had the pair (above) at my shop for almost 4 years.
 Pair of triple standards on my dining room console.

 A grouping of 5 in my mini conservatory.
 I love them in groups - 3 are also on the table.
 A topiary in my library (in desperate need of haircut).

If you have questions about myrtle topiaries, just let me know. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Garden Companions

The sight of robins in the garden is delightful. Just seeing them makes me smile. In DC, robins are native & abundant. Whenever they see me outside, one or two will invariably follow---especially when I’m watering or weeding. As soon as I move to the next spot, the robin will look for worms and grubs in the area I left.  Sometimes I’ll toss them a worm :-) Today, this little friend completely charmed me! 

 I fill and change the water in this birdbath daily. The English box are flushing out nicely.
 Behind (at top) is the hedge of camellia sasanquas. They bloom white in autumn.
 Blooming are "mount hood" daffodils. White "mount everest" alliums will soon bloom.
   Here is a look at the hornbeam trees leafing out. They will be pruned and shaped in summer. Under the hornbeams are white blooming "vinca minor albas"