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Archive for September, 2012

You choose an object that you really love and everything else falls into place.
-Marjorie Wollan

I knew there was another reason I had been hunting for this particular issue of Elle Decor from 1996 featuring Marjorie Wollan’s New York apartment. Back in the spring I had noticed it was for sale – but totally redecorated with only a vestige of the old furniture and design. It was so different I almost couldn’t believe it! What also made the difference stand out so strongly to me is that the real estate listing photos are so bad. Their goal is showing practical information such as square footage and layout and have absolutely no styling in comparison to the magazine shoots.  So I am going to pull a mini-Joni and play a little decorator detective here. As you read, think about which way you prefer it – you’ll have no doubt of my opinions!

So as I mentioned in that last post, this was one of the first “undecorated” decorated spaces that caught my eye and it influenced me tremendously. Wollan, who worked for the French perfume company Annick Goutal at the time, had such a Gallic flair that Goutal herself said “Whatever you want to do with my company, I trust you,” upon walking into the apartment. Nothing felt planned or stagey, it was just a group of beautiful objects, some precious, some less so, arranged for comfortable living. It didn’t hurt that the large two bedroom was surrounded by a wraparound terrace on all sides with gorgeous old-fashioned French doors everywhere either!

The living room had great bookshelves with molding and sconces and well read looking books stacked and crowded in. Yes, the yellow is dated now, but was the height of fashion at the time. That being said, it was used as a neutral and not to create a particular color scheme, which was a very modern choice. Click the photo for a larger detailed view – you can even see the cute tassels along the bottom of the settee.

The close-up shots are much better. I think this might be the first of those marble-topped French bakers tables I love so. The giant clock and puddled draperies struck me as very European at the time.

Here’s a better view of the ticking stripe Chesterfield – you’ll note Elle Decor reversed the image for the front cover. There is a full length mirror on the back wall with a crystal sconce overlayed on it. I love the worn leather cushion on the painted antique chair.

The dining room was just dreamy with its polished pedestal table and unusual Thonet bentwood chairs – even the cushions and the bows – and that amazing trumeau mirror. Fancy but casual at the same time. I still love this dining room to pieces!

The master bedroom had a wonderful exposed metal canopy bed, long before the Anthroplogie one was available to everybody. Painted Chinoiserie screen paired with an antique American quilt. Ruffled sconce shade against stripey wall covering. Loved the mix!

While boasting nothing significant, the guest room had a play of color and texture.

The bathroom was all about this little shelf vignette – a perfect piece of jewelry. Brown and white aesthetic movement soap dish and toothbrush holder – all the details are there. And note the vintage style brass faucets which are the height of popularity now. Wollan was ahead of her time.

A later tear sheet from a 1999 House & Garden lists Wollan as working at Guerlain and shows a later version of what I believe is the same bathroom.  Look closely at the sink and fittings from the photo above and below – I think they are the same. But the bathroom has been redone with white marble lining the walls.  The jewelry effect has been kept with this Italian gilt mirror, exposed brass fittings and animal print chair.

A similar vignette to the one in the earlier photos has been created on this vintage marble washstand. Just so pretty without appearing staged.

And now on to the February 2012 real estate listing – 16 years after the Elle Decor spread.  The living room is structurally unchanged – the bookshelves remain and the apartment has been painted a very au courant grey. I do love this new color and with all the natural light from the many windows, I bet it works very well. The settee is gone from in front of the shelves and a flat screen TV lives there now. A leather-covered bergere sits where the bakers table used to, between the window and the french door. The Chesterfield is in the same place but has been recovered in a plain light blue fabric. Waaaah!!!! No more ticking!

Looking the other way in the living room, the large mirrors remain but just about everything else has changed. Graphic Hicks-style rug, Mies van der Rohe Barcelona cocktail table, and an animal print stool mixed together are again very “undecorated” and eclectic but very different from the original version. It is all still trés chic!

Need I say anything about the dining room? Table and chandelier are the same but everything else different! I would not have traded the gilt and marble sideboard that was there before for this mirrored armoire and more particularly the chairs! Waaaah! At first I thought no more trumeau mirror but…

…found it here on the other side of the dining room now. This entryway photo gives a good sense of how the rooms relate to each other and a view of another modern icon piece, a Le Corbusier chair, added to the living room.

I can’t tell which bedroom this is from the listing and it is the only one shown, but my suspicion is that it is the master. While charming, I think this newer version looks way more dated than the blue and white iron campaign bed version above. I do spy our old friend the giant clock from the living room hanging over the dresser.

If you are as crazy as I am and want to see more photos, including the kitchen and terrace which were never featured in the original Elle Decor issue, check out the listing at House of the Day in The Wall Street Journal. And now dear readers, which way do you prefer Wollan’s apartment and why? Do you like these posts tracking the evolution of a space? Do you change your spaces often? And how? By rearranging gently? Adding over time? Or completely re-doing all at once?  Do you follow interior trends or buy with an idea of ownership forever?

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Ticking stripes have been on my mind for a while – actually for at least 15 years if not more – but it was only with the unearthing of this great back issue of Elle Decor that I could finally complete a post on it. It contains photos of Marjorie Wollan’s apartment that had lived in my mind as one of the first great “undecorated” spaces I had seen at the time. I am happy to report that the entire apartment lives up to my memories, but more than anything else, it was always this ticking stripe Chesterfield sofa on the cover that blew me away.

Humble ticking, traditionally used to cover mattresses, is tightly woven to keep feathers and straw inside where it belongs. As a result, it is also great for upholstery projects. My favorite use is on formal furniture like that Chesterfield, and more particularly on those pieces with a wood or gilt frame, such as Louis XV and XVI or Sheraton style pieces. The ticking makes “important” furniture look more casual and approachable and thus more modern. Designer Jan Roden does it here with another of my influential old tear sheets, using ticking on the French chairs, lending a relaxed feel to the room. You can see another favorite of mine – a Bennison roses print – on the chair in the corner.

Imagine this ornate piece without the casual stripes…

One of ticking’s biggest successes was in this hugely popular photo of the Odette Sofette from Mitchell Gold that Good Bones, Great Pieces author Suzanne McGrath used in her daughter Lauren’s first apartment. I think every blogger out there has it saved in their files. I think I was extra partial to it because I already have two Odette chairs in my living room!

I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to moody blue libraries, but I think this one designed by Nate Berkus is by far my favorite! The gallery wall yes, and also the white frame sofa upholstered in blue and white ticking!

And to quote House Beautiful directly: “Natural linen on the tufted sofa and ticking stripe on the settee keep the living room of this New York apartment from being ‘too stuffy or precious,’ says designer Ashley Whittaker.” You can just see the ticking stripe peeking out on the framed sofa on the right. This is one of those spaces you just know would be comfy to live in.

Another incredibly relaxed space from the late Chessy Rayner’s Southampton home has a stripe covered settee among an eclectic variety of furnishings. More photos from this lovely home can be found here.

Ticking is also great at balancing ethereal whites and florals in the bedroom. Here it anchors a Louis XVI style settee in this dreamy bedroom.

And it looks fabulous scalloped with the stripes playing off the curved edge – either directionally with the stripes or against them. In this Jane Moore designed space the scallops on the coverlet run in the same direction as the stripes – which by the way, play off a Bennison floral once again. I know I have another great image of a scallop edged coverlet that runs in the other direction, but no matter how much I have looked for it I can’t find it. Bummer!

In this bedroom by Lars Bolander the narrow ticking stripes trace the curves well – like giant scallops!

The closest piece to Marjorie Wollan’s sofa that I ever came across is this Ralph Lauren Mayfair tufted chair. But I think it would be relatively easy to find a vintage tufted piece and have it recovered in ticking.

See! Ticking really does take the stuffiness out!

I loved this regency chaise with its tiny ticking stripe – another one of those things I wanted to buy but had no room for!

Camille over at The Vintique Object just had great posts on the Odette Sofette and on ticking too – take a look!

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

Image credits: 1. Elle Decor Feb/Mar 1996, 2. House Beautiful December 2003, 3. House & Home October 2007, photo credit: Virginia Mcdonald, 4. Traditional Home, photo credit: Max Kim-Bee, 5. Elle Decor March 2010, photo credit: William Waldron, 6. House Beautiful February 2010, photo credit: Francesco Lagnese, 7. via One Kings Lane, photo credit: Thibault Jeanson, 8-9. via Cote de Texas, 10. Country Living, October 2012, 11. Elle Decor March 2008, photo credit: Kang Kim, 12. via Chiarabelle’s  Flickr account, 13. credit unknown.

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So of course, the usual selective perception thing has kicked in, and having mentioned those vintage church chairs so popular in antique stores around Tokyo in my last post, I have stumbled across a few new images of them being used in interiors.

I had long admired the painted ones in photographer Paul Massey’s English home, admired the entire kitchen and the incredible quality of light it has, as well as the wonderful patina found on much of the furniture and accessories.

It’s hard for anything to look bad with those windows! Massey’s space is used in photo shoots all the time and you can see pictures of the rest of his house on his website here.  I know all my Aussie readers and going to love this one!

But just yesterday I found these images of a Georgian manor house in Oxfordshire renovated by Michaelis Boyd Associates and decorated by Sarah Delaney. Again, note the incredible windows and that line up of chapel chairs.

This is my favorite view, interspersed with modern white molded plastic chairs. The contrast is great.

It is no surprise that these houses are all in England. Here’s a photo of the warehouse of a large UK architectural antiques shop. I think churches all over Britain are decommissioning these and moving to modern alternatives – like plastic – how sad!

I haven’t noticed them much in the US, but they are bringing them over in containers to Japan. Their small size and light pine and oak are perfect for the casual country look that has become so popular here. They mix and match easily, both with each other and other kinds of chairs. And the bible pockets in the back are perfect for holding place mats and napkins, keeping things orderly.

And perhaps the best juxtaposition? The So Tired cafe designed by  Ichiro Katami and Uichi Yamamoto, over in the business area of Marunouchi. The modern stained glass is meant to evoke a church like atmosphere, so what better to use for the seating than retired church chairs? I hear they serve good Cantonese style food and dim sum, so now its on my list to visit.

I have a major chair dilemma myself coming up – more on that soon!

Related Posts:
Shop Talk, Or Better Yet, Shop Walk…Mid-Century Modern and Other Antiques Along Meguro-Dori
On Dumbwaiters and Butler’s Trolleys…Non-Japanese Antiques in Tokyo at The Penny Wise and Found

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