Sunday, June 30, 2013

Updates at Our Place

Do you remember my home office which I wrote about here in June 2012? As a quick reminder, an upstairs guest bedroom was converted to my office. For meeting with clients, I use our shop's office, while this home office is perfect for reading books, magazines, and favorite blogs. I adore being in the room as it is located in a very quiet and private part of our home.

It's only taken a year, but finally there is progress on the decorating front. Actually, I'm glad I didn't rush into finishing it because some of my favorite new pieces were not planned.
The newest addition is this blue-and-white pouf. I originally wanted a footed ottoman with a ticking fabric and dark legs, but didn't have time to find one. Then, I happened upon this fun elephant pouf and thought: perfect! The size is just spot-on for the slipcovered chairs. 

The best part is how the colors complement my rich indigo blue pillow from LuRu Home. Have you heard of LuRu? They were featured in the June 2013 issue of House Beautiful. Founded by Claire Russo and Liza Serratore, LuRu specializes in beautiful custom hand dyed textiles: pillows, napkins, place mats, etc. I discovered them via the blog Tokyo Jinja written by Jacqueline Wein. Jacqueline, being the world traveler, shares her adventures, special finds, and lovely writing all on her blog - one of my favorites! Thank you, Claire, Liza and Jacqueline!!!
Here is the gallery wall now. There are 4 new pieces of artwork, and I've rearranged the grouping. None of the artworks were acquired specifically for this room. Just a random collection from our travels, friends and leftover shop inventory :) 
Perhaps the piece that doesn't quite work 100% in the grouping is the abstract from Nantucket (above left). It is painted on a grayish natural linen which looks good with the curtains and linen liner of the floral still-life painting. So, for now, it is staying. On the top right are two mid 20th century French paintings: a Brittany landscape and rooftop scene of Paris. The rooftop painting is by Andre Lauran from the Ecole de Beaux Arts de Lyon.
Finishing the gallery wall is a special seascape painting from my friend, Michele Ranard. Michele painted this piece just for me, and I enjoy it everyday! You can see more of her paintings here. Not only is Michele a talented artist, she is the gifted author of the stylish blog Hello Lovely! Thank you, Michele!
  Speaking of updates, we had our second garden shoot for Southern Living Magazine. You can read about the first photo shoot here. Once again, the talented and celebrated Helen Norman came out to photograph our gardens. Here she is shooting the blue garden in the late evening light.
 The next morning, we all got up at 4:30 AM for coffee, and dragged our zombie selves outside to shoot the white garden and front boxwood garden. Whew, talk about tired!
 We had glorious morning light and, miraculously, no rain. Seems like we're stuck in a weather funk lately - rain nearly every day! Tom and I were stressing for days...worrying about the rain ruining the Annabelle Hydrangeas and Asiatic Lilies.
 The photo above was taken around 6:15 AM. Helen, can we have a peek? Helen's photos turned out gorgeous, so I hope you all buy the issue when it comes out. If you subscribe, still go out and buy extra copies :)
 Above: Asiatic white lilies and Alliums poking through the foliage of Japanese Anemones. Below: 
- Petunias in the urn with potted English boxwoods
- Oleander tree (top right)
- Daisies, Phlox and Lilies (middle to bottom right)
 Thank you so much to Southern Living! Tom and I are especially grateful to Garden Editor Rebecca Reed of S.L. And, many thanks to Helen!

Have a wonderful weekend, and a fantastic 4th of July!
PS - I understand Google Reader will be removed, and there might be changes to blog lists, etc. So I just joined Bloglovin (icon located at the top right side) to stay connected with all my blog friends. Please be patient while I learn how to navigate there.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Nordic Light

Over the years, Tom and I have traveled to Scandinavia numerous times throughout the seasons. We've feasted on hearty autumnal smorgasbords, visited snowy birch forests in winter, and scoured Stockholm's stylish shops in spring. But, there is nothing quite like the ethereal Nordic summers. The long days of endless sunshine are just spectacular. 

We just returned from a buying trip. To celebrate these first days of summer, I'd like to share my photos taken last week in Denmark and Sweden. Remember to click on the photo for an enlarged view.
Happy summer!
PS - To see more photos of Scandinavia, visit my post here and my Instagram page here.
We made a trip to Fyn, a Danish island admired for its quaint coastal villages, charming harbors, and landscape of rolling hills, open fields, and tidy farmlands. The Baltic Sea is visible in the above photo. Isn't the light incredible?
Perched on the village hilltop in the heart of Horne, this commanding medieval church seems to float despite its bulk. It is at the same time beautiful yet austere. The circular part is original, and the wings were added in the 1400s.
Golden wheat fields shimmering in the early evening light.
These gentle rolling fields of flowering onion chives were intoxicating and beautiful.
Fyn is known for its thatched stucco and timber cottages, barns, and farmhouses. The cottage above had the perfect seaside setting.
Both the farmhouse and garden shed belong to the same estate. I forgot to photograph the magnificent manor house :( 

These big leaf plants have spread all over the island. I'm not sure what they are, but my guess is either Gunnera or Butterbur?? Anyone know? They are also in the second photo at the beginning.
Leaving Fyn, we drove across the Great Belt Bridge - the world's 3rd longest suspension bridge. Slow down the car, Tom, and let me to take this photo! Got it!!
Welcome to Sweden! Since the weather was terrific and, there was still plenty of light, we drove down to the southern coast for dinner after a busy day. Dinner was so-so. But, the view of the Baltic Sea more than made up for my Ikea-like Swedish meatballs.
I adored this cute red fisherman's tackle shed - tons of personality!
Speaking of red, there were fields and fields of wild poppies fluttering in the wind. Even though I've been to Sweden probably 25-30 times, this was my first time seeing them in bloom.
Their delicate petals remind me of crepe tissue paper.
In addition to having amazing summer light, Scandinavia has some of the most beautiful painted furniture - many in light tone-on-tone shades of whites, grays and creams.
Here are just a few pieces we have coming in our new shipment. Above is a Swedish Rococo serving cabinet from the 1760-80s. I love the iron handles on the sides - a popular and useful feature found on antique Scandinavian furniture.
This Rococo table still has its old paint. The faux marble top surface has been refreshed.
And another Rococo table below. This one has a very sculptural top with pronounced curves. The cabriole legs are a classic Rococo feature.
I have been buying and selling Swedish clocks for over 10 years. This one has just the right form with pleasing curves and proportions. All these pieces will be coming in our next shipment - stay tuned!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Vincent is Back!

As summer vacation starts, many of us will be traveling and visiting museums. When I worked at the Smithsonian, the galleries would stage big blockbuster exhibitions during the busy summer months. What are your summer holiday plans? Does it involve museum-going? I'm looking forward to visiting the Winslow Homers at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, and returning to the Louisiana Museum on the Baltic coast of Denmark.

Earlier this year, Tom and I visited two very different but equally fine museums in the Netherlands. We only had 2 1/2 days and, being short on time, selected museums that were interesting, manageable and represented the distinct points of views of their founders.

The Kroller-Muller Museum, located in De Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo, houses a stellar collection of artwork by Vincent van Gogh - the world's second largest. In addition, there is an impressive sculpture garden park with pieces by Rodin, Moore, Hepworth, Serra, Dubuffet and more. The core of the collection was acquired by heiress Helene Kroller-Muller during the early 20th century.
 Dramatic sculptures outside the entrance to the Kroller-Muller Museum. Above is K-piece by Mark Di Suvero (1933).
 It was the special exhibit Vincent is Back that we anxiously wanted to see.
 Many of the paintings and drawings in this show are from Van Gogh's Dutch period. Because of their sensitivity to light, they are seldom exhibited. These somber pieces are quite different from the exuberant works he painted in France.
 Next to the dark Dutch period works, Van Gogh's Provence paintings are even more vibrant and lively. Did you know he chose still-life subject matters because he couldn't afford models?
Below is Terrace of a Cafe at Night (Arles, September 1888), the very first starry night scene Van Gogh painted.
 Leaving the Van Gogh exhibit, we toured the permanent collection and came across two Piet Mondriaan paintings. While I recognized the bottom piece as a Mondriaan, I had no idea he painted Impressionist landscapes, such as the top painting, early in his career.
 Magnificent sculptures inside and outside within the impressive 61 acre park - one of the largest sculpture gardens in Europe!
 Above is the sensual Cloud Shepherd by Jean Arp (1953), and below is the very moving Niobe by Constant Permeke (1951).
 After our visit, we drove to the city of Maasstricht, and wandered the historic streets. Here are a few photos taken around Vrijthof, the main square.
 It was early spring, and the pollarded Plane trees were still bare. Quite haunting!
 The looming red tower of St. John's Church.
*   *   *   *   *   *   *
Named after Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem is actually the oldest museum in the Netherlands. Teyler was a powerful and wealthy merchant, banker and champion of the Enlightment. Teyler left his collection of books, artwork, fossils, minerals and scientific instruments to promote science as well as the arts. Thus was born one of Europe's most fascinating cabinets of curiosities!
We absolutely loved Haarlem! It was like visiting one of Veermeer's paintings.
 The Teylers Museum is unlike any we've seen. The resplendent Oval Room, which dates from 1784, is lavishly paneled and filled with scientific instruments, gems and minerals.
Look at the amazing sun bleached oak paneling!
Now THIS is salon style! More is definitely more here in the two Paintings Galleries featuring Dutch works from 1780 - 1930.
Below is the Fossil Room with case after case of corals and fossils. Notice the ornate cast iron floor grate running the length of the room.
And here are a few photos around town.
This charming building dates to 1548.
Even the street brickwork is fantastic!
I hope you've enjoyed these tours. Have a wonderful summer, and happy travels!! ~ Loi