Thursday, August 26, 2010

Secret Garden

Tucked away on Long Island’s Gold Coast, the enclave immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, a most unusual garden lies forgotten in the woods of a large estate.

The gardens most unique feature is a tiny Tudor house situated at its heart behind which hides a walled garden designed especially for the enjoyment of birds. Built to resemble a fairytale witches cottage, this romantic folly was built in 1917 by Mrs. Payne Whitney at Greentree the family’s country estate to serve as a private place for reading and quiet contemplation. To give a sense of age the masonry exterior incorporates beams from old Long Island barns and a deliberately sagging roof of multicolored slate specially laid to encourage the growth of moss. A candle fixture framed in the tiny window above the Tudor door romantically illuminates the entryway.

The cottage was named Cromwell House for it contains an actual Tudor room imported from a house in Gloucestershire, England believed to have once been the bedchamber of Oliver Cromwell. Upon entering the visitor is greeted by a large multi-paned window looking into the walled bird garden, the only entrance to which lies through an antique iron door tucked away on the side of the house. Looking out from this cozy paneled room the Whitney's and their guests could view the wild birds without disturbing them.

The bird garden is surrounded by nine-foot high walls crawling with wild grapevine and features a raised stage-like area at the far end. The garden is centered on a birdbath surrounded by formal paths and planted with shrubs specially selected to attract birds. Today the estate is preserved by the Greentree Foundation which has hosted high level UN-led meetings on the property as Cromwell House and its bird garden sit nearly forgotten in a copse of trees just beyond the tennis court.

Photos from House and Gardens Book of Houses.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dinner for Two

A beautifully set table can turn the simplest meal into a memorable event. Luckily the "butler’s pantry" here at Knickerbocker Antiques and Vintage is stocked with all the little necessities for a one-of-a-kind table.

We started by taking the quilt off the bed and putting it into service as a unique tablecloth set off by a simple blown glass urn filled to the brim with lilies and irises. This simple yet elegant base makes a perfect backdrop for mixed and matched pieces selected from our antique and vintage porcelain, fine china, crystal and glassware collections.

Our place settings feature colorful French Limoges dishes sitting atop antique Austrian porcelain soup bowls with delicately gilded detailing. The dinner plates are unadorned white porcelain by Villeroy & Boch featuring fanciful molded borders perfect for mixing and matching. The white and gold bread and butter plates of English Wedgwood china perfectly match the French Limoges butter pats, a charming dining accessory rarely seen today.

The exquisite hand blown Venetian Murano glass goblets from Asprey are intended for red wine but their massive size makes them perfect water as well. They are shown here matched with antique wine glasses featuring unusually detailed stems and vintage cut crystal glasses by Tiffin.

The table for two sits framed by columns displaying potted plants, one in a large art pottery shell supported by monkeys and the other in an Italian majolica pot. The framed bird print and gilded wall swags pick up on the china’s gilded details creating a cozy vignette for a memorable meal.

Photos and styling by KS&D.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Porch Perfection

What better way to spend a lazy summer afternoon than relaxing on a well appointed porch, and we’ve yet to come across a finer one that designed by David Easton for Balderbrea his Hudson River Valley country home featured here in a previous post.

Easton flanked his jewel-like home with deep loggias featuring wide lattice panel columns and beadboard wood paneling trimmed with traditional crown moldings. The beautifully designed space is conceived as an open-air living room complete with stone flooring, circular windows, and even a wood burning fireplace to snuggle up to on cool nights.

The floor is covered with simple straw matting and the mix of metal and rattan seating features thickly upholstered cushions with coordinating throw blankets and pillows at the ready. The idea of treating the space as an extension of the interior is emphasized by table lamps and even framed pictures on the walls, while the deer antlers over the fireplace lend a cozy hunting lodge feel.

Of course one of the most important aspects of the well appointed porch are plants and flowers and here Easton doesn’t disappoint with masses of potted plants, vines, flowers, and topiaries on every tabletop and even displayed on brackets along the walls. With a porch like this who would ever want to go inside?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chic Eclectic

While somewhat less grand than the Sagredo room featured in a previous post this cozy bedroom corner exudes charm with just a touch of glamour.

There’s nothing homier than a quilt on the bed and this beautiful example in shades of cream and white was hand crafted by an Amish quilter in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The oversized preppy plaid pillows bring visual interest especially when placed beneath the abstract painting in corresponding hues. A pair of Italian crystal and gilt metal sconces and miniature still life paintings flank the main painting like elegant punctuation marks.

Next to the bed sits a green streaked 1940’s vintage desk paired with an antique caned bottom Baltimore chair, although the pieces are more than 100 years apart in age the painted finishes give a unity that works nicely. Painted furniture works especially well in bedrooms where formal stained wood can come off as too dark and heavy. The soft colors of the framed vintage print compliment the green nicely while the carved wood bracket holding an antique folk art elephant adds some ethnic texture to the mix.

The antique Italian lamp illuminating the vignette incorporates cut lead crystal, marble, and art glass elements as it casts a warm soft glow over the daisy filled Limoges jar, a gilt wood bracket turned upside down, and hand carved wood inlay trinket box. Our favorite nautical motifs are represented with a pair of ship models and a branch of artificial white coral, while Grandmother’s old leather bound copy of Gone With The Wind sits just awaiting the reader.

Photos and staging by KS&D.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Venetian Splendor in New York

Venice with the sparkle of sun-dappled waters reflecting across her awe-inspiring architecture has always been one of our favorite destinations. Behind the lacey gothic windows of the Grand Canal lay many of the world’s most incredible interiors. However when a trip to Italy isn’t on the schedule a heavy dose of Venetian splendor can be had right in the heart of New York City.

Down a quiet hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art lies a lavish bedroom removed in its entirety from the Sagredo Palace in Venice. This dramatic interior dating from 1718 is among the finest of its kind and instantly immerses you in the opulence of eighteenth century Venice. The elaborate stuccowork of the ceiling is awash with life-like winged figures soaring around the mural and down the cornice. The bed itself sits like a throne in a raised alcove crowned by an oval gilded dome. With soft light seeping through the frosted glass windows you could just imagine yourself waking as dawn breaks over the Venetian lagoon. If you decide you’d like to make that particular fantasy a reality it just so happens that back in Venice the Sagredo Palace, sans said bedroom of course, is now a luxury hotel.
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