Monday, August 6, 2012

Elements of Style-- The Ultimate Downsize

I was invited for a summer visit to see my friend Mrs. L.  Mrs. L. has the same taste as my ODFM--oldest and dearest friend's Mother. I have always adored her house and I feel like I am back home, basking in a place that perfectly combines happiness, comfort and beauty. Mrs. L. has a well edited eclectic collection of antiques and objets. With the help of Happy Martin's interior design studio, Mrs. L. pulled together favorite multigenerational pieces.

I covet this antique (French?) wallpaper screen, and beautiful 5 legged Queen Anne bench. Something in me sings over benches and this is one of the prettiest I have ever seen. Mrs. L. did not know the provenance on the piece so I did my usual amateur sleuthing down the internet rabbit hole.

"Queen Anne (1702 - 1714) was the last monarch of the House of Stuarts. The Queen Anne style is a refinement of the William and Mary style with lighter, graceful, more comfortable furniture. The single most important decoration of Queen Anne furniture was the carved cockle or scallop shell. Cabinetmakers replaced the straight, turned furniturelegs with more graceful cabriole leg.  It could also be the latter Georgian period which incorporated elements from the previous era. If anyone wants to chime in, please do.  I looked at images of both periods, but I am swayed to Queen Anne--gun to my head guess. 

I know repairs lower the value of furniture, as far as collectors and museums are concerned. What I see is loving preservation. You know the book Blink? It is about rapid cognition. I am not an academic, but with good furniture,  I know it when I see it.  I've shopped the planet for so many years, my senses tingle when I am in the presence of the authentic and beautiful. Every thing in this house is authentic and beautiful, but it is not unapproachable.

The architecture of the space is lovely. In a perfect small house with living and dining combined, a den/office, and the desired  kitchen family area, all elements conspire for efficient living--without compromise.  You can have your cake and eat it too. Under the eclectic mix of good things, purchased slowly over time, the humble, neutral sisal rugs  allow you to balance your vision. You see an entire room slowly revealing the history of the individual pieces as they form a cohesive whole setting.

Nothing in the room is screaming: "Look at me." There is harmony and scale--key. 

I am neither a minimalist nor a clutters, and Mrs. L.'s table tops are interesting without being jumbled.   In Winston Salem were still smoking!  On this table is an ashtray, snuffer, cigarette and match/lighter accessories.

I have an inside joke with the Flair guys in New York. They have been somewhat amused by my passion for miniature ceramic vegetables and fruits--irresistible actually. If any one sees them for sale, immediately notify me!

 I just wanted you to see the entirely perfect, small antique chandelier with complementary candlearbras.

A little glass house for a Staffordshire boy and his goat

I love this pretty powder room with reverse painted antique mirror and lantern sconces

Jewel tones strike a more masculine counterpoint for this office/den, but it is completely out of the man cave category.

You know I am a proponent of a feminine master bedroom for couples. The master belongs to the mistress if you ask me!

This is one of the most handsome burl chests I have ever laid eyes on. The erratic graining in this piece almost resembles tortoise shell. Burl is difficult to work with due of the uneven nature of the grain. It splits easily and is very expensive and rare, requiring a master carpenter.

On our way out,  this tidy and entirely simple courtyard is holding up brilliantly. It is blazing hot and I have never seen Rose of Sharon done as an espalier. It is a wonderful plant, and reseeds at an alarming rate, but its blooms through August and September are welcome after our hydrangeas burn up.

Last but not least, this is a close up of a painting Mrs. L. has by a mutual friend. She has put down her paint brushes and I wish she would start up again!

More Later!!

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  1. Love the pretty blue powder room!

  2. I'm in LOVE with the bedroom!! I might never leave the room if it were my bedroom.

  3. I really like that big room, too, and for the same reason you do: there's nothing calling unnecessary attention to itself--no focal point, no silly Wow Factor, nothing to disturb the peace. It's a handsome, elegant comfortable room, and if it weren't for the thickness of the sofa's arms & the shades on the lamps next to it, I might think this was a well-preserved room from half a century ago. If nothing's in style, nothing can go out of style.

    And you're right about the handsome burl chest, both about its good looks & the fragility of burl veneer. In my book room, I have a William IV table of honey-colored burl yew, and if the vacuum cleaner comes withing six inches of the thing, a piece of veneer pops off. That's why the cleaning woman is forbidden to sweep in there: she'd vacuum the piece up without ever noticing. Not, of course, that the same thing doesn't occur when I'm the one sweeping, but then, I'm on red alert when I'm in there, so when the inveitable happens, I'm ready: the only thing in the apron's otherwise-useless shallow drawer is a small bottle of Elmer's Glue.

    1. Oh Please I beg you! There are antique restorers who love antiques so much! They will for a reasonable sum, I promise you will help you restore the treasure that you have!

      Honestly! If you let it go past what you are describing......then it cannot be saved!

      Please save it!!



  4. Liz, a wonderfully collected home; much love is seen here with so many cherished treasures!

    Art by Karena
    2012 Artist Series

  5. I have no higher compliment to give! I actually SAW Nancy Lancaster's 'Haseley Court"! I saw the house; and toured it and the garden and even had lunch there!

    This house reminds me of what Nancy Lancaster did when she "downsized" in the delightful space she had in the apartment over the carriage house!

    I will print this out and save it my whole life!

    This is "taste"! Karena defined it above! Rarely seen!!

    Divine beyond!


  6. Beautiful treasured pieces - what a wonderful downsize! On the settee - I would vote for Chippendale over QUeen Anne. While Queen Anne style has the cabriole legs and shell motif, I would expect the back to be more of a fiddleback back. more solid. Shell motifs carry over from Queen Anne to Chippendale and the cabriole legs and claw and ball feet are common. I can't really tell what is going on with the ears of this piece, but there is Chippendale influence also. Then the question is - is it American or English? Is the wood walnut? At any rate, the transition from Queen Anne to Chippendale style took time in the colonies. There is some overlapping of the styles. The smooth contours of a slipper foot were eventually replaced with a claw and ball foot. It's so much fun to ponder the question! But whatever you call it, I don't even care what the Keno Brothers might say - I love this settee! I would gladly toss the bulky chest I have in my front hall to another room, to place a handsome settee like this in its stead!

  7. I can only hope as I go through my own downsizing process that my space turns out as lovely and inviting as this one is. A perfect example of how to turn a house into a home.

  8. What an exquisite home, so elegant and charming. This is perfectly put together.

  9. I like your comment about loving repairs---I get so bored by people who don't see beauty in such things.

    And I covet the screen too

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