A View from the Gallery

Classic Country French Dining Room

April 25th, 2013

With the mention of Country French,  most people envision a stone house with wood beamed ceilings, rooms appointed with richly carved armoires and cozy sofas, and chairs upholstered in a luxurious fabric. And of course, there would be flowers emulating a Parisian public garden and lots of collectables.

Country French is all the above and much, much more. What makes its many interpretations so livable and why Country French continues to be among the most popular interior design motifs in America is that it never forgets its past, even while charging ahead to the future. Homes created in this manner always reflect the occupants’ personalities, making each house unique. This is one characteristic I strive to give all my clients. By using their own collectables intermingled with new (old) purchases, regardless their country of origin,  they are creating a reflection of themselves. I love to visit a home with family heirlooms mixed in with the décor. Those personal touches truly make a house a home.

A brilliant combination of the rustic with the refined, Country French is as appropriate for a cottage as it is for a chateau. While evolving over time to meet the needs of the middle class and their much simpler homes, the basics of Country French decorating—proportion, balance and fine craftsmanship—have never waivered. Add to this the important role of family in France, and you end up with a style that is both pleasing to the eye and comfortable to live with. Though styles change, our focus on our families and comfort does not…even in America.

Imagine sitting in one of those beautiful French chateau dining rooms. The well-designed furniture alongside a stunning view makes me relax just thinking about it! At the gallery, we have created a Country French dining room that could fit in any chateau. The combination of our beautiful Country French solid oak Lodge Cabinet with our heavy solid oak, parquet top farm table, decked with our English garden urns and Royal Albert bone china,  achieves the look of classic Country French as described above. The heavily carved breakfront brings charm and personality as well as more display space for china. The addition of sheepbone leather chairs, combined with our Louis XV tapestry fauteuils (chairs), accomplishes our look with richness and grace. A casual elegance seems to radiate an inviting feeling…one that evokes the desire to sit down for a lovely family dinner. And that is what it’s all about: creating a welcoming and inviting space for our family and friends.

Creating A Classic English Tablescape

April 18th, 2013

Defining classic English style is not always an easy task. As with all things traditionally English, words like ‘good quality’, ‘understated’ and ‘timeless’ pop into my mind. During the first half of the 18th century when grand homes of Europe were typically flooded with gilded wood and rococo swirls, the trend in England was one of simple elegance. Symmetry and balance were seen everywhere, as were solid colors with schemes of a subtle blend of richness combined with faded colors. Don’t get me wrong, bright, bold colors were used generously in large, stately rooms, and as always, color was a personal choice then as it is today. However, English décor is a little less fussy than French.

In the gallery today we have arranged a beautiful table focusing on two antique English urns with garden scenes and spring flowers to serve as our centerpiece.  Notice that we have selected antiqued gold placemats, green water goblets and ruby red wines to mix with our English Royal Albert china. We always focus on the flow of our colors, as well as balance and symmetry. The centerpiece, combined with the other elements, creates the continuity of color. The greens, reds, golds, and yellows of our selection flow from one element to the next forming a unity of color which always amplifies the impact of any setting.

Our yellow flowers leap out of the vase to seize your attention, providing the “wow factor” that every table needs. What a wonderful way to say “hello” to spring by bringing a touch of the outdoors inside your home. Flowers are the finishing touch that seems to make everything else come to life!

The use of pairs on this table is one of the easiest ways to introduce more elements into an effective tablescape. Pairs can enhance any piece of furniture if properly placed in balance with the surroundings. Remember, there is no particular formula to creating a successful tablescape. The most difficult task is deciding what accessories on hand to use. Trust your eye…a tablescape that really works should add depth and interest to the furniture they embellish. You are creating a piece of art as you pull your table together with all the things you love thereby allowing people to see a glimpse of your personality and style. So make your spring table something fresh and exciting; it will certainly brighten your day!


Using Period Pieces with Modern Pieces to Decorate

April 12th, 2013

This photo came from one of our clients who purchased our 18th-century carved walnut wine coolers from Europe. She is thrilled with her new treasures, and we are thrilled for her. This is what we’re all about: Helping our clients enjoy their homes, helping our clients make their homes a sanctuary. This client is on an emotional journey of discovery, and she is in a state of mind to explore fresh territory. This sideboard is situated in her foyer, and while we usually will add a modern touch, we never insist that our clients do the same. She has added a touch of whimsy with the tassels on the keys. The wine coolers are multipurpose: They can be used as vases, as decoration, and yes, to cool and serve wine. Metal panels and a decorative gallery rail speak to the current trend of mixing metal and wood. This is a calming, symmetrical setting with its candlestick lamps and linen drum shades. Add the impressionistic landscape and the faux finish on the wall, and the scene is set. Our client is learning to enhance her lifestyle and developing her own personal aesthetic. Our job is to help our clients create rooms that must reflect their personal preferences, needs, desires, and dreams. For all of us, learning how to live well is a lifelong process. We want our clients to be happy in their sanctuary. After all, we at the gallery think life is a luxury, indeed

A Beautiful Tablescape for Entertaining Formally

April 11th, 2013

Setting a formal table should be done with ease as if it were everyday decorating. For those of us who love doing tablescapes, it’s like making a collage. It’s about color, texture and pattern. We have shown you how to combine these elements on our post today. Experimenting with what you already have and can readily get your hands on, moving those things around and putting them together cohesively as well as mixing them up a bit is the key to success. By doing so, you can create a sense of movement and variety in your tablescape; one that is unique to you, your home and your heritage. You don’t have to go shopping or spend a lot of money. To be creative, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone and do the things that speak to you, and make you happy. That can be accomplished by looking around your home, pulling things together that you love and build a central theme for your tablescape. Remember, your table should be beautiful as well as functional; however, your guests and the conversation should be the focus, always. Coming up with your own idea and using a combination of china, crystal, silverware and linens you already own is half the fun. We have used a crisp white linen tablecloth and matching dinner napkins as the foundation for our beautiful formal tablescape; these items are a good investment to make. You will be able to use these companions dressing them up or down, depending on your selection of china and crystal. We have chosen to formalize our table by using silver, antique etched crystal stemware, Wedgewood bone china and sterling silver flatware. Notice that we have not used placemats; the simplicity of the setting demands your attention. Our birds, artichokes and china create a flowing color scheme that is pleasing as well as beautiful. A touch of whimsy is given by our parrots! The French epergne and candelabra add the distinction this table commands. Elegance and beauty are exuded from this beautiful setting. Look around your home and pull together the things that have meaning to you, combine them with all those beautiful heirlooms you have and create your own tablescape. The holidays are coming. Get busy girls, you have work to do!

Using Pieces with Chinoiserie for an Asian Accent

April 11th, 2013

There is no great mystery to design. The real secret is how to make things work, and that is a gift that must be nurtured. Of course, how one designs tells a good deal about oneself. Antiques may speak of mystery or romance; paintings or objects may reveal a preoccupation or interest. The objects used in a room should have special meaning and relate to how you live and your personality. Here at the gallery we love to create rooms that give that “lived-in” quality. We cover the walls with our wall art and the tables are covered with our possessions that create a sense of beauty; by doing the same thing in your home, you could create a scrapbook about you, and your family’s life. Now, that is what makes a house a home. It certainly is no mystery about the gallery to see that we love beautiful things that just exude beauty and romance. Is there really anything else? In our photograph featured on our post today, we are showing you, once again, many elements of design. Notice how our wall art is arranged around a beautiful gold gilded French mirror; below it sits a very stately oriental sideboard from the late 1800’s with one of our most favorite features, chinoiserie, which is hand painted patterns of Chinese motifs on furniture. We have adorned the top of the sideboard with an ivory King and Queen carved from elephant tusks and used a matching pair of rose medallion antique vases to compliment our theme. The gold on our buffet lamps give the cohesive tie needed to unite our gilded motif. The dining table is dressed with the classic three wise men from the orient as we continue our journey to Asia; we all know that a room is not complete unless it has at least one oriental element. We have thrown in a pair of needlepoint pillows with Chinese jugglers to finish our look. The old-world élan of our rooms may well owe even more to secrets we have gleaned from our friends from France, England and Asia. How else do we explain — given our preference to justapoxing different periods and far-flung influences in edgy ways, just as we have done here, into fabulous settings suitable for anyone. The take away today is to be courageous in decorating; use a mixture of furniture from different periods as well as a mixture of different elements. You might just surprise yourself!

Using Asian Accents to Embellish Decorating

April 9th, 2013

Making the connections between form and color is one of the great joys of working with my eyes I get to experience on a daily basis. When designing and putting together rooms, these collaborations are often planned, but I like them best when  they catch me by surprise! Connections are important when creating great designs; in addition, they also point to what is already there and how things can work together.

While sitting anywhere waiting, instead of getting into a tizzy about why my time is being wasted, rather, I absorb my environment as if I were a sponge. I might see something spiral and get the inspiration to use something columnar, with a twist. Out of the corner of my eye I might catch sight of a beautiful flower in the sun and say ah-ha…”Yep, that is exactly the color I have been wanting to use.” Colors and shapes entice me daily — anytime, anywhere.

And shapes, oh my goodness! Without a plethora of them, design really would not matter and it certainly would not be very interesting. Shape is really what everything comes down to — the shape of things which you create within your design.When shape has integrity of form that is meaningful to me, it captures my attention. Discovering the connections and interconnections between shapes is very intriguing when putting any room together, and it should be the next step when decorating after you have selected a color scheme. If you are using a square chest, it is much more interesting to change the shape of what you hang over it rather than pair it with a piece of the same shape. For example, a mirror with a curve or carving would add more interest to the setting.

And as we all know, color is how I have always cataloged the world! Without it, I simply could not go on! We have light and dark, warm and cool, pale and paler. My fan deck would be a million shades of a few colors  ranging from bright, brighter to brightest! Remember, color stirs emotion, sets the mood, and captures the attention of any given audience, whether it is your  home, your attire, or really…whatever.

Today we are showing on our post color and shape; our beautiful damask deep coral background sets the stage for this unique “Chinese waterbottle.”  We have delved deep into Asian history by showing how their ancient people kept water, and how creative, in every stretch of the imagination, they were and always will be. Keeping a firm hold on this beautiful jug is our heavily carved mahogany French wall sconce. Together, these two pieces show us how intricate form and detail alongside simple rounded shape work impeccably well together.  Add a rainbow of color to this and you have extracted the essence of beauty, and voila, here is this classic wall decoration that would make anyone give it a second glance! That is what we are striving for girls…you know what I am saying!!!

Decorating with English Tea Caddies

April 4th, 2013

Did you know that tea was introduced from China to England in the middle of the 17th century?

Treasured, secretive as well as valued, tea used to be its own currency. The history relating to the fiscal implications of this commodity is very interesting; suffice it to say, I am glad we have it today, for many reasons. At the time tea was presented, it was believed to be therapeutic as well as delicious. The fragrant leaves were even prepared and drunk in ceremonial ways with ancient hierarchy. The English people accorded it time and space and this alone must have had the effect of producing a sense of well being. The health benefits of tea were known in the East for thousands of years.

I have become a lover of tea and also a collector of tea’s exquisite accouterments. Tea centers me and serves as a source of inspiration for my work. My bedtime ritual is to sit with my cup of hot tea to relax and unwind…then my mind can become creative; this is when I do some of my best work. Not only are you allowing yourself to relax, you can acquire extra antioxidants your body needs to help boost your immune system.

Tea has to be stored in a closed container to keep its precious leaves fresh. Tea caddies were made early in the 18th century, but it was not until the second half of the century that they were introduced as a home style accessory. Not only do I love tea, I have a natural affinity for those beautiful little caddies! It is amazing how intricate some of the inlays within the woodwork captures your attention. They have compartments inside that housed different leaves. The mere design of the boxes tells one how important these tiny little leaves were then…and still are to this day. Charles Faudree loves to incorporate tea caddies into his design. The Chippendale mirror and French Empire chest are the perfect setting for our caddies which are nestled underneath our French lamps with shield shades. They add a touch of class to any little spot that needs something different…sitting atop a stack of books, on a shelf or just…sitting alone; this setting would make Charles very happy!  Today we are featuring an array of English tea caddies, one being tortoise shell,  that would enhance any setting. Look at the fine hand craftsmanship each displays.  It is finding simplicity in simple things — simplicity takes clarity and confidence. Making your rooms work with harmony, proportion and effortless simplicity is key to decorating. Now relax and have a cup of tea!

A Passion For French Decorating; Layering our Collections

March 26th, 2013

The definition of romance is a love affair, and as with any romance, there must be passion. Here at the gallery, I am passionate about things that have been loved before, and, shows its history. When I am on buying trips, I never really know what I am looking for, only to find that whatever I buy has to speak to me. One should use that same philosophy of something speaking to you before purchasing it. It should be as if the object chooses you rather than you the object. This is what evokes the romance of collecting, and that’s what makes the difference between merely decorating a house, but instead, creating a home. My own love affair with the romantic French style is evident from all the objects and pieces of furniture I’ve collected for my own home, as well as the gallery, over the years. The French style of decorating is much like my own concept: more is better. The French have mastered the art of creating their own unique look. It is very simple and all it requires is layering. Yes, that is it, just simple layering; kind of like the bird spends endless hours creating its precious nest. All sorts of elements with different textures are used in settings, however, sturdiness and comfort are most vital. On our post we are featuring a Louis Philippe marble topped commode, which has less ornamentation and a more straight lined appearance than others we have shown. We have paired it with a more modern, metal circular mirror and softened the look with a pair of black and gold lamps with French shield linen shades. Our traditional cachepot, with antique brass overlay, holds a wispy touch of the outdoors with our air fern. The total look is a mixture of traditional and modern that, if you take notice, balance each other well. Accessories are key in completing any look, and we have achieved our goal here by using the right blend with unifying colors. Most Americans tend to tuck clutter out of sight; the French prefer to bring it all out, much like I do here at the gallery. Hey girls, if you’ve got it, bring it all out for the world to see, and I guarantee you will enjoy seeing what you can create!

Mixing Styles and Eras to Decorate

March 22nd, 2013

In the fickle world of design where things come and go, one cannot put a period, a particular setting or any given decor that our two legged, feathered friends cannot “fly” into. Birds have been around since the beginning…and as far as I can see in decorating, they have been, and are here to stay. When tastefully decorating, I really think of Town and Country as the best mix of both worlds. By mixing elements that are somewhat modern, always sophisticated, and somewhat whimsical, to a degree, you can create a setting that has unique flavor and flair. Today’s post features a pair of antique brass and porcelain cranes that are very large in scale, and would work perfectly in the right setting, whether it be large or small. Most people are afraid of scale, not understanding their reluctance to putting big pieces of furniture in a small room, or putting larger accessories on a smaller piece of furniture in any size room. Often times I will choose a large scale piece of furniture and balance it with other smaller objects in a small room. It is called the “magnet” piece in the room, which each room needs. All the furniture cannot be the same height; if so, the room becomes less interesting to the eye. The general rule is, the bolder the scale, the more interesting the room. Our cranes featured today are standing tall at 30 inches and give us the town look. We have them accessorized with an Italian urn with artichokes and live, preserved boxwood balls to add the country charm needed to complete our look. The French tea cart they are sitting on certainly is not large in scale; however, where I have it placed in the gallery beside a towering 9 foot buffet-a-deux-corps, which is a two part French cabinet, the scale of the cart and birds is perfect. We have infused France and Italy today; they are known for creating artful, elegant interiors with the aura of romance and glamour. We like to emulate that look here at the gallery. Our take away today is to try new things, trust your instincts, and put some big, bold accessories in your decor. It will surely get attention, and what woman doesn’t like attention?

Making Your Collections Work With Your Decor

March 22nd, 2013
Collecting is a human instinct. For as long as people have focused on acquiring more objects than they needed, they have turned that excess into collections, automatically, instinctively. Parisian homes are filled with collections because the French love to collect. I think we Americans have the same desire to collect just as the French do; I know I do! Your home should be designed to display those articles and collections that have woven the tapestry of your lives – your family – your travels – your accomplishments and your passions. Displaying your collections is all about balance and fooling the eye with various levels of objects, furniture and wallgroupings; also using different materials and textures will add interest. The various levels of a setting should let the eye rest periodically. By that, I mean there should be a gentle flow from one side to the other; whether it is from one side of a piece of furniture to the other, or, from one side of a room to the other. It can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. All of my friends and clients are very well aware of my love for French Country, and for my symmetry. Today, I am featuring our French Country server topped with an apple topiary which balances in height with our original oil painting of the cow. Notice how the chicken and moss pot are close in height, thereby giving the eye the rest it needs to notice the entire picture, and to keep the appeal.The French wallcovering with chickens pulls in our color scheme, as well as our farm theme of animals. Our outdoor elements of moss and apples lend themselves credence in completing our French Country farmyard look. Notice the bleached finish on our French server…that seems to be an ongoing trend in furniture these days. Each piece of this vignette could be individually used in other areas of your home; the server could be used as a hallway piece to display family heirlooms on or in a bathroom. The cow painting could be used in a den or a sunroom, or any place in your home that makes you happy. Remember, one outstanding piece of furniture can change the whole look of a room…so plan to have at least one timeless antique in each room of your house. Antiques will radiate elegance to your guests, I promise!