Monday, August 26, 2013

Swedish Style Light Floors

Yes, I love light-colored floors! And I often receive questions about our bleached floors. So let me share what I know. Let's get started!

Whitewashed floors have been around for hundreds of years in Sweden and Scandinavia. Because the Nordic winters are so long and dark, having light-colored floors help to keep interiors bright. They are also quite versatile, and can work with traditional or modern furnishings.
Throughout Ekensberg Manor outside Stockholm, Sweden, many of the pine floors were whitewashed (above and below photos, both by Simon Upton for House Beautiful). Built in 1790, Ekensberg is being restored by Lars and Ursula Sjoberg, both respected scholars on Swedish antiques and the decorative arts.
The pine floors above and below seem to have a lyed soap appearance. Both photos scanned from the book: Rum for Mobler by Lars and Ursula Sjoberg, photography by Staffan Johansson. 
Scandinavia is covered in spruce and pine forests, and much of the flooring comes from these blonde-toned woods. Staining these woods can be problematic as the sap from the knots tend to create blotches. Instead, the floors are often given a clear wax finish or whitewashed treatment involving a lye soap mixed with chalk / lime pigments, calcium carbonate, etc. The combination of the lye (sodium hydroxide) prevented the wood from yellowing while the chalk / lime pigments left a whitewashed appearance. I do not know the exact formula.....anyone? I do know it requires upkeep and refreshing often.

What I love most about this look is its quiet texture. Unlike painted floors, which are opaque, the variation of the grain and character of lyed wood are all there, only lighter. I find that bleached floors have a similar appearance, and require less maintenance. Let's quickly compare the two:
 In the above kitchen, the knotty pine floors have a milky finish. In the dining room below, the hardwood boards (most likely oak) have been bleached, whitewashed, and oiled for protection. We had pine floors in parts of our former home, and it didn't bleach well - a bit streaky and peachy. Therefore, I suspect the pine floors above have been lyed due to its consistent appearance.

Notice how lovely the light-colored floors look in modern settings. Quite different from the 18th century manor homes above, but equally beautiful and appropriate.
 From the airiness to the furnishings, I love everything about this modern home by NORM Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark. All photos from NORM.
 And for comparison, below is a drawing room with painted floors designed by Albert Hadley. See how the monochromatic painted finish is different from bleached and lyed surfaces?
When we renovated our home, Tom and I installed new 7" wide white oak boards in random lengths. As with the floors in our former home and many of my projects, I entrusted the finishing work to Classic Floors.

Our floors were sanded, cleaned, bleached (to lighten the wood), stained white twice, and sealed with a Danish oil treatment. Here are some tips:

1) Order extra stock as there will be unattractive boards which should be rejected.
2) Try placing darker boards in the centers of the rooms which will be covered by area rugs.
3) Try bleaching darker boards twice, but be sure to do a test as over-bleaching can turn the wood green.
4) In lieu of an oil treatment, bleached floors can be sealed with a water-based urethane in satin finish.
5) Stay away from red oak which tends to bleach pink!
In our family room, the floors are complemented by a neutral Oushak. The painted sideboard and trestle table are both Swedish from the 1800s. To keep the room from being too pale, I included a few iron pieces with blackened finishes.
Darkwood furniture looks even more stunning on light-colored floors. The chestnut sideboard is French, and the oak child's posture-correction chair is English Victorian.
At our shop, we have a small room with bleached floors. Sometimes, I like to leave it bare, and currently, there is an antique Oriental rug that is beautifully worn.
Do you remember Michelle and CD's home which I decorated? Look how beautiful their bleached floors are with an antique Oriental.
In Linda and Kit's former home, I had the bleached floors sealed with a water-based urethane. I love the serenity of this home which is decorated with Swedish antiques from Tone on Tone. A big thank you to photographer Lydia Cutter for sharing these photos from Home and Design Magazine. Lydia was such a pleasure to work with, and her portfolio is amazing - check it out here!
I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have information on light floors, please feel free to share! Thanks!!
PS - Bleached floors are quite easy to maintain, and require very little dusting!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Luncheon at Our Home

Thank you all for leaving such wonderful and positive comments on my last post about the new shipment. Tom and I are grateful for your support and feedback! All of the new inventory will be posted to the website soon. I've been busy cataloging, pricing, and photographing each piece.

Recently, I hosted a casual luncheon at home for Bethany Brower, Nancy Powell, and Kerry Steele - all friends and blog authors I met last summer.

Nancy and Bethany are a talented, creative, and dynamic design team, and they write daily about design, art, and more on their site: Powell Brower. They are also mother and daughter.

Kerry is an amazing artist, and author of Design du Monde. Her abstracts on linen are quite lovely! Check out her new site here.

As I do not cook much (at all :), I enlisted Tom to prepare lunch. We enjoyed his Chesapeake Bay crabcakes, tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, and simple mixed greens. Many thanks, Tom!! For dessert, I picked up a summer fruit tart and macaroons from a local French patisserie.
 Setting the table can be so fun! In my china closet are antique and new creamware, ironstone, and other simple dishes.
 Above photo: French creamware pieces in an unusual pale blue color by Creil (top row). Creamware and ironstone serving pieces (second row). Dinner plates, soup bowls, dessert and salad plates, and other small dishes (bottom row).  
I ended up using these vintage Swedish ironstone plates with beaded rim. They are the perfect luncheon size. (The little footed bowls are French coffee bowls from the early 1900s.)
Also in this closet are linens, trays, and vintage baskets stored in old French laundry baskets.
For a casual look, I selected French olive wood flatware, rustic washed linens, and abaca woven place mats. Both the flatware and place mats are from Crate and Barrel.
Here is the table all set up! The footed cakestands are French from the end of the 1800s. In the photos at the beginning, you'll see a stack of three, which I assembled over a period of time. Limelight hydrangeas are from our garden.
Here are Nancy, Bethany, and Kerry in the family room. Thanks for coming over, ladies. I had a great time :)
And now is a good opportunity to share our new Swedish Mora clock from the end of the 1700s. Just over 100 inches, this is the tallest Mora clock I've come across. To read more about Mora clocks, please visit this post from last year. The antique coffee table is from Belgium, and is slightly taller than today's coffee tables.
That's it for this post. Hope you'll visit my friends' sites.
Bye for now! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A New Shipment!

Hello ~ Happy August! I hope this finds you well and enjoying these remaining days of summer, which seem to be flying by. Tom and I have been on several road trips up to New England. Otherwise, we're hanging around the house and the shop.

Speaking of which, it's been a while since I've toured you around Tone on Tone. With a new shipment that just arrived, now is the perfect time. Here are some of my favorite new arrivals. Click on photo for enlarged view.
First up is this Swedish green-grey painted sideboard. This is a classic Gustavian sideboard with its raised gallery, reeded diamonds, and symmetrical arrangement of drawers over doors. I think it looks so fresh with the creamware and ironstone pieces. To dress it up, I would hang a giltwood mirror, in silver or gold, above.
Also from the Gustavian period is this stepback linen press in 2 parts. The flanking chairs are French in the Louis XVI style.
Notice how the raised panel doors follow the arch of the bonnet top.
Mix it up! Here is a Swedish Gustavian style 72" long sideboard with a pair of Italian cast iron urns and a very French still-life painting. I love the modernity of the contemporary frame against the classical urns. Many thanks to Richard at Artisans Art and Frame (Washington, DC - Ph: 202-333-4093) for suggesting this fabulous gold-leaf frame with gesso over wash.  
From the village of Forsa in Halsingland, Sweden is this 1790-1800s original painted table with lipped top, long drawer, and carved leaf-tip apron.
A 19th century Swedish Gustavian style vitrine cabinet (for books or china) next to a 20th century French mahogany etagere. The classical style oval plaster plaque is Continental European.
Antique European ironstone china: still fresh and fabulous as ever! Notice all the pieces here have a rounded / barrel form.
Can you help me identify the subjects in the above plaque?
A life-size squirrel statuette perched on a cricket table from a tavern - both from England.
One of my favorites in the shipment is this Rococo campaign secretary in 3 parts, each with its own set of iron handles.
The interior of the top piece is also washed in a beautiful blue-green color.
I've styled this blue-gray oval pedestal table with pewter and tin accessories.
A green-gray Swedish secretary with reeded medallion motif.
This pair of narrow nightstands is perfect for that small bedroom.
 This Gustavian settee has been scraped back to its early painted surface. The slats, rails, and apron all have that signature Gustavian reeding.
 This super comfy Swedish tubchair is from a prior shipment. I had it reupholstered in a Rogers and Goffigon "tone-on-tone" linen.
Above and below: a mix of Swedish and French. The 2 small French landscapes have such an impact when grouped together. Separated, they seem to underwhelm. They hang above a Swedish pedestal cabinet.
   I hope you have enjoyed this tour!