2013 Posts

Holiday Happy Home

By: John Hunt

I love to welcome friends and family into my home for the winter holidays. It is one of the true gifts of the season; decorating my house and sharing it with others. Whether it be Christmas or New Years, nothing warms the heart and soul like togetherness. And though the weather outside MAY be frightful, there is always warmth and cheer in a well-dressed holiday table. Here are some ideas and tips which hopefully will get your creative juices stirring!

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This French Country-Inspired setting plays heavily on natural elements and welcomes guests with topiaries, moss-filled pots, pears, and chrysanthemums. A simple wreath adorns the back of each chair, and place cards hang from miniature boxwoods. A pitcher of breadsticks completes the look!

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Ahhhh…chartreuse! A favorite color, with it’s warmth and vibrancy. A favorite color of nature as well! Greet guests at the door with a festive swag of mixed greens, ornaments, and chartreuse ribbons at the door, and continue the theme onto the dinner table. A chartreuse hydrangea and apple place card at each setting add to the charm.

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A soothing mix of blue, silver, and white lends an air of class to this table setting and buffet. A silver pinecone with a simple greenery and ribbon treatment makes a wonderful place card. The same pinecone and greenery treatment is echoed on the buffet with added bead garland. A long centerpiece of greenery, serving pieces, and ornaments completes the look.

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Red and white transferware is mixed with rustic elements in this tablescape. The elegant toile pattern is paired with silver flatware, crystal stemware, and rustic woven chargers. The centerpiece of greens and pinecones is lit with many different sizes of candles, all nestled in a galvanized container. A Christmas ornament nestles in a silver cup of moss; A pomegranate wears a greeting of joy….or is that a guest’s name?

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The woods come indoors for this woodsy tablescape. Different heights of freshly-
sawn wood are arranged with a myriad of varied candleholders. Moss and pinecones about the table add to the rustic charm. At each setting, an evergreen clipping wears the name of the guest on simple shipping tabs. In a nearby fireplace, candles flicker among galvanized containers and greenery.

Light. First.

By: Elisabeth Paulson

Good design is a well-curated collaboration of pieces and no singular object may be more impactful to a room than an exceptional light. Often considered the last piece of the puzzle, here are a few luminous creations that inspire us to examine lighting from day one.

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This Buenos Aires Pendant from Jonathan Adler creates a modern warmth. Simple. Beautiful. Hand-blown. Makes me ever-appreciative of artists who hold on to form and materials but still manage to create something we have never seen before.

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We are waiting patiently for the perfect setting for this chandelier….is it yours? This over-the-top Flamingo Chandelier from Currey & Company is made of wrought iron and blanketed with candy, er, glass. This is sure to bring your dining room to that place you’ve been dreaming of.

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I’ve had my eye on this sculptural beauty for a while. Black Wax Shade and Matte Walnut base. Say that again? Let’s put this in front of a white brick wall with 12′ window sheers. In Copenhagen. Next to a balcony. I digress…the Balbosar Floor Lamp from Arteriors.

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I appreciate an artist who allows the consumer to take charge. This is actually a tripod stand, meant to hold up to six of Tom Dixon’s Mirror Balls, all held together with industrial clamps in the composition of your choice. Take it from minimum reflection to Hollywood film set by adding more lights.

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Last but not least, these rare sconces are original by Milan-born Gugliermo Ulrich, circa 1940s. Love them for their form and material and then go to www.1stdibs.com to admire more gems like this.

Wilde, Wilde Life: Denizens of the Aesthetic Movement

By: John Hunt

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Aesthete:  A person who has, or affects to have, a special appreciation of art and beauty.

The Aesthetic Movement of 1860-1900 was an Artistic, Social, and Design movement largely based in England.  It was a reaction against the staunch Victorian Styles and mores and the Industrial Revolution.  Its main tenets involve the appreciation of pure beauty, art for art’s sake.  It also stressed the importance of the utilitarian and handmade works.  Furniture and décor of the period were characterized by ebonized and gilt wood, far eastern influences, and naturalistic themes such as flowers, birds, gingko leaves, and peacock feathers.  An 1858 Trade Treaty with Japan had opened ties with China and Japan, re-introducing the West with Asian Art and Porcelain.

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By far the most well-known, oft-quoted, and strongest supporter of the movement was Oscar Wilde.  Before his literary career, Wilde appeared on the London Scene as a self-proclaimed Professor of Aesthetics and Art Critic.  The picture above shows a portrait of Wilde by William Powell Firth, showing him surrounded by his aesthetic followers while being ignored by the Victorians.  Wilde’s (then) outrageous outfits and sharp wit brought new-life to the Movement, and he became the editor of “The Woman’s World,” a publication which supplied a checklist for all that was desirable in interior design at the time.  Regardless of scandal and outrage at some of Wilde’s beliefs, he was sent on a tour of the US to lecture on design and aestheticism.

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A sometime friend and always contemporary of Wilde was artist and designer James McNeill Whistler.  His Peacock Room is one of the most recognized and scandalous interiors of the modern age, preserved to this day.  Hired to design the entryway of the estate, Whistler was asked to suggest a color for the shutters and doors of the dining room, which had been designed to hold the owner’s blue and white china collection.  After the owner’s departure back to Liverpool, Whistler completely changed the room’s design, coating it in gold leaf and peacock feathers.  The owner was furious at the over-ornamentation, and Whistler turned one peacock mural into an allegory of the conflict.

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Another contemporary and acquaintance of Wilde was designer, artist and writer William Morris.  His designs for wallpaper and textiles are lush, elaborate styles with a proliferation of vines, flowers, leaves, birds…all of the elements of the Aesthetic Movement.  While on his American Tour, Wilde told spectators “…find your subjects in everyday life, your own men and women, your own flowers and fields, your own hills and mountains, these are what your art should represent to you.”  The work of William Morris is the embodiment of this ideal, a beautiful representation of the sensualism of nature.

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Most critics agree that the Aesthetic Movement died with Oscar Wilde in 1900.    However, this movement gave rise to the next major movement:  Arts and Crafts.  If you strip the last vestiges of Victorian Embellishment from the Aesthetic Ideal, you are left with the utilitarian appreciation for handcrafted items and the beauty that can be found in nature.    It also gave us the modern appreciation for Blue and White export porcelain.    These are the best aspects of the movement which have come down to us, and I will agree with Mr. Wilde:

“I have the simplest tastes.  I am always satisfied with the best.”

Canadian Wanderlust

By: Stephanie Andrews

After working with some of our favorite clients, sometimes a deeper relationship shapes, each with unique importance.  This happened with Suzanne Macpherson, whose path led to us with both her previous and current homes.  I admire her understated yet authentic lifestyle she created with her husband Ty and their three elementary-age daughters. Therefore, I decided to interview Suzanne and Ty to see where this rich, layered life comes from and how they think.

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Describe where you grew up.

Suzanne – I feel like I grew up in two places.  I was born in Newfoundland and moved to New Brunswick at 11 so my early years were spent in very rural areas.  At the age of 14 I moved to Toronto for boarding school.  That was the first time I had lived in a big city.  Then at age 18 I returned to New Brunswick for University.  Although I loved Toronto, I felt that the East Coast was my home.  Life in Eastern Canada revolves around the land and the sea.  My memories of childhood are usually of being outside.  Although the weather has its extremes, it is a beautiful place that (after 20 years away) still feels like home.

Ty – We moved often while I was growing up.  From NYC to Virginia to Atlanta to Maryland (DC suburbs) back to Atlanta.  I always lived in high density settings and usually in the suburbs.  I always had an interest in architecture and spaces which lead me to study architecture at Georgia Tech in the 70s.

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How does where you grew up influence your style?

Suzanne – I think I am very influenced by the land that I grew up on.  I like things that are natural, derived from nature and organic (overused word). I like a home to look like it has grown overtime, that shows roots and has layers and history.  My parents’ house was filled with items that came from my father’s family.  Everything had a history, a story, a family character to describe it.

Ty – I am always looking for the balance between comfort/practicality and character/warmth.  Growing up in the suburbs we always had comfort and practicality but as an adult living in Europe we had warmth/history/character.

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How do you describe your style?

Suzanne – Welcoming, comfortable, enveloping, warm (at least that is what I want to be.)

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Where have your travels taken you and what items have you brought home?

Suzanne – Our travels have taken us all over the US, Europe and Latin America.  We do try to buy a piece of art on most travels.  Sometimes it is a big purchase and other times it is a small ink drawing from a street vendor.

Ty – I found an old painter’s ladder on the street in Paris when we were living there.  I still have it in my office.

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Thanks to Suzanne and Ty for sharing their thoughts and homes with us over the years.  We continue to enjoy finding furniture to reupholster, art to feature, and simply time to spend together to talk about plants, schools, and next projects.  Elisabeth and I feel very lucky to be able to work with clients that enrich both our design aesthetic and our lives.

Fall Colors Never Fail

by: John Hunt

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It’s that time of year again, when pumpkins miraculously appear on porches and grocery stores smell like cinnamon. It’s also that time of year when we all take a different look at color – while we pack away the white pants and sneakers of summer vacation for the brown turtlenecks and boots of the approaching brisk breezes. So, like our friends the trees, let’s think about changing color in our décor!

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Not ready to commit to an entire wall of autumn’s most prevalent color, orange? How about featuring it in more subtle ways like this homeowner? Paint the inside of a bookcase then add a few small, colorful accessories to enhance the appeal.

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Maybe your bedroom needs a pop of color for the season. Here, a vibrant purple coverlet and shams combine beautifully with an otherwise white interior. The grey-plum roman shade brings another more subtle layer to the room and could easily combine with other colors come spring.

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Don’t let your furniture get jealous…liven it up as well! This chartreuse-painted and upholstered chair adds a wonderful spin to this transitional vignette. I like the juxtaposition of the modern geometric drape with the classical lines of the chair.

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And for those of you who have had their fill of color, you can always try the absence of it. This beautiful nearly all-white room makes me think forward to the next season….

(A special Thank-You to Pinterest for many of the images.)