Thursday, April 29, 2010

Antique & Vintage Porcelain & Fine China

Here's a look into part of a large arched china breakfront lining the hall opposite the arrangement seen in a previous post. The gentle sloping arch of the glass fronted door makes a lovely frame for a selection of porcelain pieces featured in our online shop. The lower shelf is almost entirely devoted to an elegant Bavarian porcelain dessert service adorned with lush depicts of ripe fruits.

The upper shelf continues the theme with a collection of vintage German porcelain plates featuring baskets overflowing with fruit along the finely detailed borders. The plates make a lovely backdrop for an intricately hand-painted porcelain pitcher and cup set covered in realistically rendered clusters of acorn and oak leaves.

Photos and styling by KS&D.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Not So Mellow Yellow

After the previous post on the impact of color I came across this image from an old copy of World of Interiors showing the bright yellow study of a rustic Scottish hunting lodge. The bold yellow of the image instantly attracted me and I had to wonder how different this space would feel just by changing the color. The intriguing element of this image for me is the relationship of all those black accessories against the yellow. It’s bright and cheerful but still somewhat masculine, even with that ruffle on the chintz-covered pillow. The unusual cushion upholstery is due to the owner’s belief that it takes twenty years to break in new leather and wishing to extend the life of his chair has simply recovered the worn cushions.

Photo by James Mortimer

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Experiments with Color

There is no faster or easier way to transform a space than through the simple application of paint. There is also no aspect more personal or of greater impact than the hue with which we choose to surround ourselves. Moods are often dictated by the color and light of our immediate surroundings, and the reaction between these two is important to consider.

After some years spent in the warming glow of the peach tone seen in previous posts it was decided a sleeker cooler tone was in order. Wanting to experiment with a gray we ended up with what in bright sunlight appeared to be an almost off-white. Once on the walls however, the color began to take on a decidedly lavender appearance, until after sunset when the room changed to a pale powder blue for the night. Setting out to choose the color I jokingly requested to paint the room opal after my birthstone and oddly enough that’s exactly what I got. As I sit writing this I can see off-white, lavender, gray, and pale blue from different corners of the room.

The color makes an excellent backdrop for gilding and dark woods. Over the brown leather sofa the mirrors have been replaced with a pair of beautifully detailed gilt floral garland moldings. Resting atop one of the salvaged columns is a hand carved bust depicting a stylized Native American Indian maiden similar to one displayed in the beadboard cabinet, both however have already been snapped up by a client in Europe. The carved cherub corbels and Chinese porcelain jars look great against the new color as well as the English porcelain plate at the top and the colorful gilt framed bird print below. As lovely a background as this opal makes for the rich accessories placed against it the color has proved a bit of a downer to be enveloped in all day and a lighter brighter shade has been chosen to replace it. After all you’re never more than a few cans of paint away from a whole new mood.

Photos and home staging by Knickerbocker.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Whispering Cherubs

Browsing the catalog for Christie’s Jewels: The New York Sale I came across this incredible little pair of gold ear clips by legendary jeweler Paul Flato. Titled the “Whispering Cherubs” these imaginative jewels are designed to resemble the backs of a pair of heavenly cherubs as they whisper secrets into the wearer’s ears. I really love the humor and originality of these beautiful vintage gems right down to those wild curly ponytails. With an estimate of $1500 to $2000 these conversation starters are among the most affordable pieces to hit the block in the April 22nd auction. Those only intrigued by the most jaw dropping jewels might be interested in the spectacular emerald brooch once purchased by Catherine the Great and estimated at a cool one to one and a half million.

Photo from Christie’s website

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Victorian Eclectic at the Met

Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage is a fantastic exhibit now on view through May 9th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The charmingly surreal fantasies on display are not the work of any famous artist, but were in fact created by Victorian English aristocrats long before collage was considered a serious art form.

Originally created to adorn the pages of personal albums and scrapbooks; these unique works of art combine drawing, watercolor painting, and photography to create amusing and often surreal pictures. Heads of friends and family were carefully clipped from photographs and applied to animal bodies, floating soap bubbles, playing cards, or even stuffed into pickle jars.

Viewing these works of wit and whimsy it’s easy to imagine Lewis Carol finding inspiration in these images created in the same years as his much beloved works Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Playing with Light and Shadow

After our previous post on a dramatically decorated hall in the Spanish Palace of the Duchess of Alba I wanted to show how I adapted some of the same ideas into the hall of my own far less palatial abode.

While I’ve yet to attempt my own celestial ceiling mural I’ve managed to achieve a dramatic effect simply through light and shadow. The glass-front shelves under the elaborate antique tapestry, provides ample storage space for our online shop as well as a wonderful display opportunity.

Lighting is provided by a candlestick lamp and a lovely vintage Italian art pottery urn, which cast light through the large domed birdcage and a vintage pair of moose antlers surrounded a display of porcelain plates including one of heraldic design. A pair of gilt framed Victorian prints glimmer alongside rusting wrought iron wall sconces.

Clustered around the small boudoir lamp are antique books with a distressed antique marble bust, a large shell filled glass compote, and a beautifully crafted iron sword. The elegant urn light fixture is also surrounded by antique leather bound books as well as a pair of terracotta cherub candlesticks.

Photos and styling by KS&D.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Aristocratic Inspiration

Long before I ever had the pleasure of interning there in college, I had been finding mountains of inspiration in the artistic photography of W Magazine. While a fashion magazine might not be the first place one would look for interior design inspiration this magazine is a treasure trove of beautiful imagery. One of the most memorable interior images has to be this view of a hall leading to the Duchess of Alba’s private apartments in one of her six Spanish palaces. Because of this photograph I can’t walk down a long narrow hall without imagining it with a celestial ceiling mural. While the barrel vault certainly doesn’t hurt the drama factor either I imagine that would be slightly more of a challenge to replicate. Luckily the most dramatic aspect, and likely the easiest to replicate, is the wonderful lighting, a combination of table lamps interspersed with spot lit artwork for a dramatically mysterious effect. The Duchess of Alba also known as the most titled woman in Europe has a fascinating story of her own to tell. With a lineage so noble it is said the Queen of England should bow to her, she is not required to kneel before the Pope, and perhaps strangest of all she reserves the right to enter the Seville Cathedral on horseback.
Photo by Simon Watson

Monday, April 5, 2010

Roman Dew Drop Fountain

On of the most unique and interesting water features I’ve ever seen is this unusual moss encrusted fountain at the top of the Palatine Hill in Rome. What struck me most aside from the wild growth, was that every little leaf and wisp of moss was sparkling with dew-like drops of water trickling their way down to the basin like a soft drizzle. The effect is subtle yet mesmerizing as you watch the patterns of scintillating droplets shimmer in the sun. Il Fontanone; as the fountain is known, was built for the Farnese family in the 17th century by Girolamo Rainaldi. In ancient times the Palatine, from which the word palace is derived, was the site of Roman Imperial palaces. The area was in ruins by the Renaissance when Cardinal Alessandro Farnese purchased the site for his summer residence the Orti Farnesiani. The secret of the fountain's unusual effect is due to low water pressure on the hilltop making a spurting fountain an impossibility, Il Fontanone instead “sweats” as the water slowly rises to the surface. The fountain and the pair of aviary structures that crown it are almost all that remains of the Orti Farnesiani today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Old Cabinet New Look

After weeks of scrapping and gallons of paint remover the cloud of fumes has finally cleared to reveal a new look for our old beadboard cabinet.

While I admit to being skeptical until almost the very end I really love the way it all finally turned out. It plays up the handmade rustic feel that I loved about the piece, while looking bright, clean, and refreshed at the same time. The soft faded graining of the beadboard also makes a perfect neutral backdrop for photographing items featured in our online shop.

The unusual arched glass front display cabinet shown here with a piece of Chinese porcelain looks wonderful against the new finish. Sharing the top shelf is a wonderful hand carved bust depicting a stylized American Indian maiden along with a selection of pitchers including a lavishly hand painted one from Sicily, a beautifully detailed little one from France, and a handmade rustic one holding hydrangea dried last summer. Finishing off the tableau is an old handcrafted wrought iron candlestick, an elegant art glass bell, and a charming antique carved wooden elephant.

The middle shelf is still a symmetrical display of Italian art pottery including hand painted plates, nautical candlesticks, and a pair of cruets. The centerpiece is a lavish majolica bowl featuring monkeys supporting a giant seashell. Fanning out behind the bowl is the intricately detailed rim of a platter by Lomonosov, porcelain supplier to the Tsars of Russia. Finally the collection of heavy art and design books and the old carved chest fill out the bottom with warmth and texture.

Photos and styling by Knickerbocker.
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