Thursday, February 25, 2010

Serge Royaux: A Touch of the Palace

Looking back through our files of inspirational design clippings I found a great piece in Architectural Digest on the home of legendary French designer Serge Royaux. Always fascinated to see the personal living spaces of great designers, I’m particularly intrigued by this elegant yet comfortable living room in Royaux’s 1750 mansion in the Dordogne Valley of France. Renowned for his grand palace interiors including several at Versailles, it’s no surprise that Royaux says he brings a “touch of the palace” to everything he does.

However it isn’t the palatial touches that really make this interior memorable for me. Of course the restraint classical moldings, the grand crystal chandelier, and the antique marble bust originally from Versailles are all equally breathtaking! The real lessons for me in this space are how Royaux has mixed these major statement pieces with unexpected touches like the spare coffee table, the deep shaggy white carpeting, and even the spiky variegated tropical plant. The restraint wood and glass corner and fire screens expand on the theme of simple wood finishes seen on the coffee table and other accessories: which really bring a warmth and harmony to the space.

The main seating area beautifully summarizes this harmony between comfort and grandeur with the simple gesso finish on the Louis XVI sofa set before a table piled with books and a few simple accessories. For me this image expresses classical sophistication at it’s finest, and has greatly influenced my taste for blending textures, styles, and historical periods in my own environment.
Photo by Marina Faust

Monday, February 15, 2010

Living Room Redux: Part 2

As promised here is the update on the refreshed and re-imagined living room wall. As you can see our simple wall treatment redesign has turned into a full-scale furniture rearrangement. To be honest the sofa always did work best on this wall but had been placed perpendicular to allow for the display of a massive tapestry now long sold. After returning the sofa to this wall I choose to bookend it with a pair of antique fluted columns salvaged from a brownstone renovation. The columns make a great visual statement and are a wonderful way to display decorative arts.

Here I have elected to use an unmatched pair of accessories to add an asymmetrical counterpoint to this otherwise perfectly symmetrical composition. The antique bell is a special family piece and the vintage hand-painted Indian planter box adds a dose of life and color. The potted plant is simply sitting inside the box and can be easily switched out for some bamboo or branches for an instant new look.

As promised the bird print and Chinoiserie mirror arrangement is once again the center of focus. The long horizontal shape of the print depicting Venice makes the perfect bridge between the pair of hand carved cherub corbels. Finally to top off this elegant and simplified wall treatment the massive moose antler rack has been swapped out for these smaller and very unusual Indian Blackbuck antlers. as I love to add an unexpected rustic touch to a space.

I think this new arrangement has achieved my desire for a lighter more airy feel in the living space, however several pieces from this display have already sold as I write this and it's time to begin all over again!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Living Room Redux: Part 1

Welcome to our first post here at Knickerbocker Style! To give you a little introduction to our aesthetic I’d like to share a recent redecoration project involving a large living room wall display.

Several months ago I arranged this wall as a cluttered yet symmetrically ordered display of prints, mirrors, and accessories that was a perfect backdrop to our festive holiday decorations. Now that the decorations are long packed away I feel a rethinking of the space is in order. The arrangement was centered on an elegant hand colored bird print flanked by a pair of elaborate 1920’s gilt Chinoiserie mirrors. I really love these pieces together and plan to work the new wall treatment around these elements.

The baronial moose antlers crowning the center were a wonderful conversation piece over the holidays but without the tree in front of it they feel too large in scale to relate to the smaller pieces surrounding them. The small framed prints along the top include another hand colored print as well as a charming eagle fragment from an antique Fraktur. The different frames added color and interest to the composition, but now I feel a simpler look is in order, and these little gems will easily work in several other locations.

A favorite part of this wall treatment is the imposing pair of hand carved cherub corbels, and I’m certainly going to find a way to work these beauties into the new design. I’ve always been a fan of wall brackets as they add an instant architectural dimension to any space. The large vintage Chinese famille rose porcelain ginger jars are just the right size and scale for these grand brackets.

The gold frames bookending the arrangement I gilt in 23 karat gold using the traditional water gilding techniques, very interesting but time consuming process for a future post! The frames have been used to display a charcoal sketch and a block print from my art school days. Just next to these are found an 18th century Angelica Kauffman print opposite an unusual mid-century surrealist print. Finally the arrangement is finished off with three long prints depicting the cities of Venice, Augsburg, and Munich. These family heirlooms are wonderfully detailed with all major landmarks numbered and labeled, but the best design aspect of these is the long horizontal shape making them the perfect fit for over a doorway or as part of a larger composition such as this. At least one of these prints will certainly make a re-appearance in the redesign. Hope you enjoyed our introduction and be sure to check back soon to see how we re-imagine this space!
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