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Archive for July, 2012

So I have been thinking a lot about what I wrote in my last post, about considering buying that French marble pastry table even though I don’t have a use for it right now and keeping it for some later home or project. And I did buy that vintage schoolhouse desk at the garage sale, using the “it’s too cheap and too nice to leave behind” rule. Making me think about it more was seeing the just released September issue of Elle Decor featuring Reese Witherspoon’s early Wallace Neff designed Ojai, California home. Originally built in 1923 as stables for Edward Drummond Libbey, it retains much of its original detail in great condition including hewn beams, stucco walls and iron railings and fixtures.

Decorated quite simply and elegantly by Kristen Buckingham, who is always a favorite, it has got me asking myself that same question about yet another item. Witherspoon’s daughter’s bedroom, full of soft pretty colored textiles and that great alcove bed, has a swagged 1920s tole chandelier, which is a sweet focal point.

I have been tracking a similar fixture at one of my local antiques stores for a few years now. It hangs a bit forlornly over a booth full of mid-century modern furniture, the relic of a previous dealer of Continental antiques. Not inexpensive, but not unreasonable, I have always thought about buying it, even though once again I don’t currently have a need for it. Entryway, dining room, bedroom – it could work anywhere – but will I ever need it? But if I don’t buy it will I one day regret it?

Furniture needs storage, but smaller decorative items can be tucked away. Textiles are another item easy to buy and store as they don’t take up much room. I recently shopped my own linen closet and came up with yards of this hand-printed cotton voile called Shree Teak from John Robshaw that I am using as a lynchpin in my upcoming “cheap and cheerful” kitchen renovation. Where and when I bought it, I couldn’t tell you, but having it on hand and having it be just perfect was great fun.

On the other hand I have an amazing embroidered fringed panel from an antique Chinese bed (bought in Hong Kong in 1998) still wrapped in acid-free tissue, sitting in a drawer at home in Tokyo, waiting for its eventual use. I have a vision of what I want to do with it, but the question is whether or not I will ever have the right house and the right space to do so. But even so, I don’t regret buying it for a minute!

The list of other things in storage is somewhat endless, from fabric to light fixtures, to furniture farmed out on loan to friends and relatives. What about you? Do you buy things and then put them away for the future? When you take them out, do you still love them or wonder why you bought them? Is there some item that got away that you still wistfully dream of?

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So, I have been offered the chance to buy this amazing French marble-topped bakers table (expensive, but reasonable for what it is) from a friend of a friend. It is the kind of piece I have always dreamed of and written about.

Melding brass and steel, gold and silver, with its classic scrolling base and a white Carrera marble top, it is divine, much like the one I have always adored…

…in Suzanne Rheinstein‘s kitchen…

…and more recently at Charles Spada‘s Normandy Chateau.

Unfortunately, I believe that it is perhaps too large, too grand and too fancy for my humble cottage, although I am tempted to buy it anyway and keep it in the basement – it would be great for folding laundry, don’t you think? – for a future home “someday.”

In the meantime, I have been out looking for a similar style table, something with an iron base and a marble top. I saw this little cutie (much less expensive) down in Point Pleasant made from a vintage sewing machine base with an oval top added. You know what a junkie I am when it comes to repurposing!

The side view shows the nice detail on the base. Unfortunately, I think it is too small and the oval top too rounded to be very useful. You’ll see what I mean in the very next photo.

Searching online I discovered the perfect piece, with a classic French metal base and an oval top that is more like a long rectangle with curved ends, much more practical for serving and display. Unfortunately, it sold at auction somewhere in Atlanta back in March.

Just to torture myself some more, here it is in an outside view – I just love the simplicity of it.

It reminds me of a piece I spotted in a photo from Tone on Tone, Loi Thai’s gorgeous Bethesda, MD antiques store, which I have never actually visited in person, only drooled over on-line. Loi has recently started writing a great blog too, featuring his pitch perfect interiors. While I am posting this photo for the bakers table, I’d happily take anything else from the shop!

Last weekend I bought this vintage school desk at a garage sale (very inexpensive). I just could not resist those amazing ironwork supports. I thought I might replace the desk with a marble top, only it is way too low to be a practical work table. I have been thinking about ways to build up height in the legs but they all seem ugly and cluttery! If you have a good idea – let me know!

I keep coming back to this inspiration photo from stylist Lucyina Moodie. Long oval table with iron base, a lamp and some display items. And note the simple sisal like runner – that is the final decision for my white painted stairs too!

Related Posts
My Kitchen Island is Back on the Table
What’s Cooking? Peri Wolfman’s Kitchens Through the Years and That Marble-Topped Bakers Table

Image credits: 1-2, 5-6 & 10. me, 3. credit unknown, via Cote de Texas, 4. Weranda, photo credit: Andreas von Einsiedel, via Boxwood Terrace, 7-8. via Live Auctioneers, 9. via Tone on Tone, 11. Lucyina Moodie

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There is simply no one who understands the charm of things from yesteryear better than John Derian. Since the day he announced his furniture line collaboration with Cisco Brothers a few years ago, I carried around the ad page (not quite as cute as the Hugo Guinness Virginia Johnson illustrated one above) featuring the 6 original pieces in the line, took it out of my inspiration folder and sighed over it regularly. He took a Sheraton sofa, a Hepplewhite settee, a Napoleon III armchair, and added to them a versatile tufted bench and stylized loveseat to make a perfect collection of vintage inspired modern-day furniture with modern-day sized people in mind. It has everything good about the original pieces with more comfort and lovely Belgian linen upholstery.

Nowhere did is show itself to better example than in his own 1789 Provincetown home, where a pair of Cove Sofas with a simple Sheraton-shape, took up roost in his living room, complete with peeling wallpaper and paint. Being John Derian, he did not renovate, but instead loved the integrity of the old finishes and details.

Funny how lighting can effect the colors in photographs! What looks like a bright yellow in the Vogue Living photo above is actually closer in color to the pale yellow in the Boston Globe photo below. You can see the corner arm of the Cove and the same throw pillow.

In a newer spread in this June’s Bon Appetit, the Cove sofa looks like it has been moved into a new location – a window niche. There is a great photo of John and his friends playing anagrams while sitting here too.

Another room in the house features the Geranium sofa, based on a Hepplewhite piece from around 1780. It is more upright, less comfy and slouchy than the Cove. I think it would make a good dining banquet.

I can’t resist sneaking in this photo of his guest bedroom too. If you are a longtime reader you know how fond I am of faux bamboo furniture. My guest bedroom here at the shore has a faux bamboo bed and dresser.

So did anything ever come of all that mournful sighing? Why is it I can rave so enthusiastically about the comfort of the Cove sofa? Well, because I have one and it solved such a design dilemma too! The beach house living room has a pair of bay windows that almost make the room seem round. When I first saw the real estate listing for the house I thought it had a turret! Turns out the windows meet in such a way that there is only one stretch of flat wall – exactly 72 inches in length – just the same as the Cove sofa. That wall had a giant radiator on it so the room seemed almost unfurnishable.  Luckily, we were able to remove the radiator, and I knew the Cove would be perfect. The back is low and comes right up to the edge of the windowsill – many modern couches would have sat way too high – so it nestles in the window embrasure just perfectly. I had a washable cotton slipcover made, both because I love the look and wanted that tiny pleated skirt, but also because I figured that the Belgian linen, while durable, might not hold up to beach house wear and tear.

Now I’ve used mine in a vintage-y kind of way – not quite the peeling paint of John Derian’s house – and mixed it with my beloved Bennison Faded Floral, Indian print textiles and Moroccan tray table. But the Cove isn’t limited to antique type designs and when styled differently can look very modern. Covered in the dark grey linen – called Vintage Steel – it takes on a very different feel.

Want that Belgian-French look? Cover it in grain sack linen.

The Cove can do pops-of-color trendy too.

Not convinced? Come by and spend an afternoon reading – you won’t want to leave!

Related Posts:
A Windsor Smith Revival…Camel-Back and Sheraton Style Sofas

Image credits: 1. Virginia Johnson via Ruthie Bird, 2. Cisco Brothers, 3. Vogue Living via Habitually Chic, 4, 6-7. via Shelter Pop, photo credit : Julia Cumes, 5. Bon Appetit June 2012, photo credit: Cedric Angeles, 8. me, 9. via Hammertown, 10. via Remodelista, 11. House Beautiful via Decor Pad

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