Monday, April 28, 2008

The Little Black Dress of Rugs?

A few years ago, a friend purchased a second home and had it completely decorated before she moved in. Everything was purchased just for the house (lucky her) and the end result was a great mix of antiques and new items, casual and elegant.

One of my favorite things in the home is the unique sisal rug in the living room. It is called 'pueblo', and has an almost Greek key like pattern on it. Stark Carpets makes a version as well. I have since seen this sisal (or is it seagrass?) in countless magazines and homes. It seems to be a classic: a bit dressier than a plain sisal, long-lasting and versatile, it has the ability to work in any home, and just about any room. In fact, someone told me that Laura Bush selected this rug for the private quarters of the White House.

A close-up of 'Pueblo' made by Prestige Mills.

It is a bit difficult to see the pattern in this picture, but the diamond sisal works beautifully in this casually elegant room. Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe.

This picture is from a recent issue of Traditional Home. The rug is 'Natura', from Stark.

Both pictures show the same room; the pattern of the rug is a little difficult to see in the top picture, a little easier to see in the bottom picture. Isn't this a beautiful dining room? The diamond sisal works perfectly with the handpainted mural and the soft tones of the room. Interior design by Michael Carter, from Traditional Home.

Here is another example of how well this special sisal works in a dining room. It is elegant, but brings down the formality of the dining room and makes it younger and fresher. Interior design by Ashley Whittaker, via Peak of Chic.

Yet another example of this diamond seagrass used in a dining room. This room would be much heavier and overly formal if it weren't for the diamond sisal rug. Via Cote de Texas.

Todd Romano uses the diamond sisal in a living room. The plain fabrics allow the pattern on the rug to take center stage. Via Habitually Chic.

This picture is from the Atlanta Symphony Showhouse 2008. The interior designer is Carole Weaks. She used Stark's version of the diamond sisal because of its ability to work beautifully with the formal elements of the room.

Sheila Bridges uses the diamond sisal in a living room. The result is casually elegant and inviting.

This picture is from the Thibaut web site. The diamond sisal is the perfect touch.

In the larger version of this picture, it is easy to see the pattern on the seagrass, but not so easy to see in the small version. Here the diamond sisal is used in a formal setting, which shows its versatility.

John Peixinho, via Peak of Chic. Interestingly, I think the diamond sisal dresses this space up a bit (interesting because it is often used to take the formality of a room down a notch).

Clearly this rug is a favorite of Ashley Whittaker.

An image from Beall Thomas photography. The diamond sisal is the star of the neutral room.

Another dining room, another use of the diamond sisal. From Cathy Kincaid.

Clearly this diamond sisal is a designer favorite, but does it qualify to be called the 'little black dress' of rugs? To fit this definition, it must be a classic, not a trend. Only time will tell whether the popularity of seagrass and sisal will endure, or whether it will be a design trend clearly defined as early 21st century.

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Whimsical original crab and lobster paintings, as seen in House Beautiful, available here:


Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Dining Room Dilemma

I had a realtor friend visit last week, and she said that if I only do one thing to update my house, I should replace the chandelier that came with the house. Given that I have always hated the chandelier, I thought that this was very good advice. Here is a picture of my current chandelier:

Yes, it is horrible. It looks like an insect to me. It looks terrible with my traditional dining room table and chippendale chairs (inherited, not what I would pick but beautiful in their own way). The chandelier used to bother me, but I do not even really notice it anymore. I am in the mindset that I do not want to invest in a lovely chandelier until I move into my next home. Also, the type of chandelier that would really suit my dining room table and chairs would be quite formal and probably quite expensive.

A formal dining room with a crystal chandelier, via Cote de Texas. My dining room table (120" without leaves, and there are three leaves) would be much better suited to a room this size!

Another formal dining room with a formal crystal chandelier. The chairs are slipcovered, which is a charming touch. From Willow Decor.

This is a picture from an Atlanta real estate listing. The chairs and table are very similar to mine, and the chandelier that is probably the best match stylistically is a crystal chandelier. In fact, my table and chairs were originally paired with a beautiful antique crystal chandelier, but the chandelier went to another family member, and the table and chairs came to me.

I am not even sure whether I will be able to use my dining room table in another house; it is so big (it is really supposed to be a conference room table, and came from a very grand home) and is really meant for a very large dining room. It fits in my current dining room, which is 16' x 13', but it is a bit big for the room. I do not think that I will ever live in the type of home that can properly accommodate this table. So this is another reason why I do not want to invest in a grand chandelier that works only with the table...I may not be able to use the table in a future house. Perhaps I will call up a few law firms to see if they need a conference table!

So, back to the task on hand: finding a reasonable chandelier that will work with my current table and chairs, but will be neutral enough so that a future buyer could see their own dining room table working with it.

One of my favorite stylish and reasonably priced line of lighting comes from Currey & Company Lighting. I recently visited their showroom in the Atlanta Mart, and was very impressed with the range of offerings. Here (above) is one of my favorites, a best seller for Currey and the chandelier that I was considering for my family room at one point. The retail is about $1400, but you can get it online for around $1,000. The dimensions are 36"h, 31" w. I like that this chandelier is simple and elegant. I do not see this as a chandelier that would typically be paired with a formal dining room table and chairs, and I wonder if this is the chandelier that would work with the dining room I would like to have versus the one that I actually have. But, it is subtle and unfussy, and this might make it work well when selling a home.

Here is the small version of the crystal lights chandelier in a bedroom, via Bayou Contessa. The couple had originally purchased it for their dining room, but ended up putting it in their bedroom and selecting a fabulous Julie Neill chandelier for the dining room.

Niermann Weeks makes an Italian chandelier that is similar, and I have admired it in several magazine spreads (this one is to the trade only, and is at least $2,500 if not more):

Although this room is not informal, it has very clean lines and subtle color. The simpler lines of the chandelier look great. Interior design by Caldwell-Beebe.

The airiness of this chandelier works so well with the light colored palette. Design by Anne Hepfer, via Design Smack.

Another Niermann Weeks Italian chandelier in a less formal dining room. This time, the lightness of the chandelier is a nice counterbalance to the heaviness of the table.

Most of the these dining rooms are elegant, but not super formal. The Caldwell-Beebe space is probably the most formal of the three pictures. However, the Niermann Weeks chandelier does not fit the bill of something reasonably priced that can stay with the house.

I have also seen chandeliers that seem to be in the middle...they have the simpler lines, but have embellishments that make them a little dressier. This chandelier is from Julie Neill's collection, and is called the Vanessa chandelier. I am not sure what the retail for this one is, but it is handcrafted by expert craftsmen in New Orleans.

The Isabel chandelier (also from Julie Neill) is also a good example of an elegant chandelier that is not too fussy or formal. Again, not sure of the price, but it is a high quality, hand crafted piece.

This one is my favorite: the Jenny Bubbles from Julie Neill. It has all of the elements that I love: the curves in the arms, the details in the circle, and the crystal bubbles that give it a little contemporary twist. The standard size is 40"h x 42"d, but it can be custom made to other dimensions. I am not sure how much Julie Neill's chandeliers cost, but they are all custom made in New Orleans to the client's specifications, so I am sure they are not budget chandeliers!

This is the Paris Flea Market chandelier, from Circa Lighting. It measures 33h x 32w. The finish is antique brass, which is not my favorite. The retail is $1,470.
Of course, I still love a Swedish style chandelier, but this one seems like it might be too feminine to appeal to most buyers. By Currey Lighting, retails for $2,400 but can be found for less on the internet. Size: 34"x34".

I was hoping that this post would clarify my thoughts, but it has not. Comments and suggestions would be very welcome! Which reasonably priced chandelier (<$1,500) do you think would look good in my dining room? Which style would work: ornate crystal, airy gilded, somewhere in between?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chair Scenes

Sometimes the smallest detail from a picture will capture my interest. This is what happened when I saw the picture above, from Victoria Hagan Interiors. I immediately spotted the unusual chair with the two pictures over it, and this image stayed in my mind.

Of course, I started paying attention whenever I saw the combination of the chair with the art hanging above. This one is from Philip Gorrivan Design. I love the delicacy of the chair, and the art above widens the tableau created by the chest and mirror.

Another interesting chair, this time with a larger scale piece of contemporary art. Veere Grenney, via Desire to Inspire.

Another interesting and graphic chair under a piece of art, design by Woodson and Rummerfield, via Girl Meets Glamour.

A narrow chair, under a small piece of artwork, on a very small wall. Most people would not have put anything in this space!

I think this is such a beautiful hall, and framing the door to the dining room are lovely chairs and small contemporary paintings. Design by Katherine Newman and Peter Cebulak, via Design Smack. Photographed by Tony Soluri for Architectural Digest.

This little scene is pure eye candy. A Swedish chair with two small paintings and a tiny bullseye mirror. Interiors by Sheila Bridges, via Design Smack.

One thing all of these scenes have in common is a unique quality to the chair. The chair can truly stand alone as a focal point, and the scene is extended with the artwork above. I doubt this would work nearly as well with a characterless chair.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New on the Market

A new house came on the market in Atlanta this week, and it really caught my eye. The first thing I noticed: the beautiful blue front door. I like the fact that the door does not match the shutters; it is pop of color in the neutral fascade of the house. It is just a little teaser for what is to come! (Listing is with Beacham & Company REALTORS, all photography by Blayne Beacham)

This home was built in the 1920s (VERY old for Atlanta), so it probably has a unique floorplan. The above two pictures are from the same room. I love the symmetry of the lamps, the contemporary art work, and detail on the window treatments and chairs.

Another beautiful room. Again, great contemporary artwork and furniture. I like how the fabric on the wing chairs, the pillow on the sofa, and the bowl on the coffee table all carry the chartreuse color throughout the room. The fabric on the windows is one of my favorites - I believe it is from the Jim Thompson line - and I love the sunburst mirror between the two windows.

A beautiful home office. Great color on the walls, and look how the chairs are done: painted black, with white on the front and black and white stripe on the back. Perfect for a room in which they are seen both from the front and the back.

I think this kitchen is amazing. Generally I like kitchens to be in outside rooms, but this one is so light and bright I could be very happy cooking here! Since it is an old home that has been remodelled, I imagine that the family room off the kitchen was added in recent years.

Here is a close-up of the family room. This color of blue is one of my favorites, and I love the combination of brown and blue that is used in this room. It is done with a very light touch. The mirror over the console and the series of framed photos complete the room so beautifully.

This is my favorite room in the house, the master bedroom. It is absolute perfection. My favorite colors in the bedroom - pale blue and white - done so beautifully. I like the touches of gray here and there, and the chandelier is the perfect touch. And that bed! The headboard looks upholstered (based on the tufting), and I really like the finials at the top of the posts. Does anyone recognize this bed? This is exactly the kind of bed I would like to have!

The other bedrooms are striking too, with lots of lovely details. All of the rooms are done to perfection. In my own home, I have a few rooms that are completely decorated, but I also have a few rooms that are not done, and are furnished with old furniture from my in-laws. It would be nice to have a completely decorated house!

Finally, here is the back yard. Large, flat, with a beautiful pool. This house is in the best part of Atlanta, the heart of Buckhead, on a 1 acre lot. How much, you ask? Quite reasonable for the area: $3.495 million. Unfortunately, the listing does not note who the designer is (as Atlanta listings often do), but clearly it is someone with a lot of skill and talent if this house is any indication.

Post script: Margaret Bosbyshell is the talented designer of this home, which is featured in Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles May 2009.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I am not sure when my fascination with crowns began, but I suspect it might have been when I saw a post on Mardi Gras on the lovely blog Bayou Contessa, and glimpsed Julie Neill's crown collection on her mantle.

From Bayou Contessa - a beautiful display of crowns used as decorations for Mardi Gras.

Clearly Julie loves crowns. She has a crown in her logo, and look at this beautiful piece of furniture from her collection:

The crown is an emblem of victory, sovereignty, and empire. It is a visible sign of success, thus the term "crowning achievement," and its significance as the decoration of the ultimate level of rank and power, makes bearing the crown a great honour. Crowns are also sometimes symbols of God, as he is considered to be the “King of all.” (from House of Names)

This picture is from an Atlanta real estate listing. Isn't that crown painting amazing? I would love to find out the name of the artist.

The painting in the Atlanta real estate listing reminds me a bit of this artwork "Crown Jewels" by Ann Carrington, seen in Gwyneth Paltrow's East Hampton home, via Topsy Turvy Style. House & Garden, 11/07. Photo by Eric Cahan.

Here is a close up of the art. It is comprised of hundreds of tiny pearl buttons.

And here is the real thing, part of the crown jewels of the British royal family.

When thinking about crowns, I remembered seeing a crown on Princess Diana's personal stationary. It took me a while to find this, but it was worth the search. I think the D with the little crown is so charming. Image from Historic Press.

If you want your own crown stationary, Crane & Co. has a cute crown design.

Prince of Wales Feathers, the badge of Prince Charles, has a crown, as is befitting of the heir to the throne.

The Prince of Wales crest is full of crowns. I can count seven, but there may be more.

This is the coat of arms for the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Only three crowns on this one!

Camilla has her own coat of arms, granted by the Queen on July 17, 2005. I count four crowns on this coat of arms.
This one is Prince William's coat of arms, which is combines elements from Charles' and Diana's coats of arms. I count five crowns in this one! All coat of arms information from College of Arms.

If you want some crowns in your own life, check out this crown for your cell phone. From Holly Hardwick, an online store that specializes in crowns.

Antique reproduction crowns can be found in many antique stores.

This is a hand carved reproduction wood crown, seen in an antique store in Atlanta

Crown chandelier by Currey & Co.

Reproduction decorative crown, on ebay.
The Wisteria catalog has quite a few crowns. Here is a crown doormat.
Crown votive candle holders, also from Wisteria.

This crown is pictured both in the garden, and elsewhere in the catalog, on the coffee table.

A beautiful sconce from Remains lighting, with a crown detail at the base.

Crowns can also be seen in architecture, in particular at the top of buildings. Here is a great example from the Crown Building, NYC. Image from deadprogrammer.com.

St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, is famous for its crown spire. From virtualtourist.com.

This was a nice topic to research for my 100th post. I was able to find sources in art, design, real estate, architecture, and royalty - which are all of my favorite topics of inspiration! As always, thank you for reading my blog. I look forward to another 100 posts!

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