Tuesday, April 27, 2010

And the Winner is.....

Susan Stafford Kelly!

Congratulations, you have won a signed copy of Hutton Wilkinson's beautiful book More is More: Tony Duquette.

And while we're at it, congratulations Susan on all the great reviews you received for your new book entitled By Accident.

Check out Susan's website for more information on all of her books.  Or click here to buy on Amazon.com.

Thanks to everyone for following our blog, we are so grateful for all of your support!

-Liz, Benji, and Viive

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dovecote Decor Eddie Ross Interview

Eddie Ross talks to Dovecote Decor at the High Point, N.C. April market! He was thrilled with Gustavian antique reproductions, their great finishes, and price.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Feast For the Eyes at High Point Furniture Market

Time and creativity combine in the design extravaganza encompassing over 2,000 vendors exhibiting at  The Furniture Market --High Point, NC.  Manufactures put their best foot forward to seduce and entertain Market goers.  "Market" is an event where designers and buyers are inspired by the best in showroom designs.        

This whimsical showroom captured a moment at Hogwarts. 

The most noticeable trend at this spring's International Home Furnishings Market is sustainable design. The offerings of reclaimed wood  are abundant.   Several manufactures interpretations of "safe"colors for  coffee tables, consoles and dining tables, in gray and white washes were seen throughout showrooms.

A refreshing departure from the gray scale is lacquer.  These Mid-Century consoles and bedside tables pop, and add an eclectic accent to any style room.

Ethnic patterns and animal prints still are a favorite!

A few showrooms delivered big on color; a lively antidote to the gray scales all over town.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Spring Gala

- Liz Morten, Devon Morten, Viive Ralston

We are excited to showcase the Designer Decorated Tables from the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Spring Gala, generously underwritten by Rolex Watch U.S.A.  My daughter, Devon Morten, is Lindsey Coral Harper’s design assistant, and kindly sent these photos and her notes. Creative juices flowed with fun themes.  Lindsey Coral Harper’s “Let the Wild Rumpus Start” table was festive with animal masks and an exuberant arrangement that thoughtfully allows all the guests to share conversation.

Table cloth Kathryn Ireland Marrakech in teal. Floral design Sebastian Li.

This elegant monogram is by Julia B.

This is my favorite table. Bruce Shostak of Shostak Style created this delightful combination of tropical, eastern themes fit for a generous tai-pan!

Everyone loves a flirty fan. The lovely gilt shot glasses with orchids are a wonderful detail.

Steven Gambrel created a zen like table, with the cloth cleverly pieced into a chevron pattern. The variations in height, airy branches, and moss crowned ceramics were chic and sophisticated.

Calvin Klein used a similar clear, natural palette, blending the watery reflection with river rocks and fungus.

Christopher Spitzmiller, the designer co-coordinator for the event, presented his signature gourd motif, with a gilt twist. His table was an homage to Albert Hadley, the honoree of the gala.  It featured a photographic collage of iconic works of the enduring interior design master. Felt napkins were a clever nod to Mr. Hadley’s often-used fabric.

Had, little me, invented this table, I think I’d be mocked off the planet. If you are P. Allen Smith, whom my daughter describes as the most charming man in the design world, then you can get away with it!  Apparently, these swans created quite the entrance as they arrived in massive crates through a special entrance at Sotheby’s, requiring multiple teams to transport and uncrate.

According to Penelope Green of the New York Times, the birds fought to the death over a mutual love interest on Smith’s farm in Arkansas.  He didn’t have the heart to bury them, so he had them stuffed, and placed them side by side in his centerpiece.  An ironic swan song for two sworn enemies, we think.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Time for "More is More"

We are extending the contest for Hutton Wilkinson's More is More: Tony Duquette until after the High Point furniture market.

We will do the drawing on Sunday, April 25th.  If you haven't already, become a member of our Coterie, and enter to win a signed copy of this inspirational and beautiful book.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Best Farm Ever: Part I: Downstairs

- Liz Morten and Viive Ralston
Interior Design: Tatiana Armstrong

My friend sent me images of her family’s farm in upstate New York. Reflected above is the Gothic revival farmhouse and barn that have been renovated creating two distinct environments. The farmhouse is an understated and tranquil refuge from the busy city life the family shares in NYC, while the converted barn/pool house says “party!”

Neutral pastels in the farmhouse, with lots of comfortable seating set an inviting, more formal tone.

Roberta Freymann fabrics in multiple colors and patterns cover Pottery Barn furniture, and are carefree and summery. The Mexican tile on the kitchen back splash echoes the cheerful statement and visually ties the spaces together. 


The stained cement tiles on a wood grid reiterate the geometry of the original post and beam construction. 

Monet's Giverny

The farmhouse kitchen, maintaining its American roots takes inspiration from Monet’s Giverny.

The more affordable Mexican tiles on the wall still convey the Pre Raphaelite aesthetic of craftsmanship, expressed by the Gothic Revival vernacular. Using Mexican tiles vs. European=divide $$ by 10=smart.  

The tiles blend in the room rather than depart, reading more like a New England quilt, than their warm weather origins. 

The painted floor, and the continued use of the tiles on the back splash brighten the room considerably, and maintain the continuity of geometric pattern in the house.

Looking at a "before" picture, is a great way to see the personality, and the warmth, that pattern and color introduce.

One of the biggest design problems is: where to put the television.  Let's face it, TVs do not always work with our room schemes.  But  if your family enjoys sports and movies, and whose doesn't, put the television high in a room where everyone can see it -- frat house style.

In the library of the main house, this T.V. is hidden in plain sight, blending in with the geometry of the pictures and the antique game boards.

Before and after shots are always fun.  My friend included this one of the farmhouse library in the batch.  

Stay tuned for "The Best Farm Ever: Part II: Upstairs"


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thomas A Gray Auction Part II: "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get" - Warren Buffet

-Liz Morten

The history of price action is always fascinating.  EXTRAORDINARY POPULAR DELUSIONS and the Madness of Crowds/ Financial Panics and Manias, by Charles Mackay, is required reading for those of us obsessed with: “What’s Hot, What’s Not.”  Tom’s auction results demonstrated the strength in the rare Southern decorative arts market, and the weakness in New England collectibles. I see opportunity there, as I love deals—not that I won any bids. Outside of the box exceptions and flukes are really interesting, so here goes….  

A surprise (to little me) was a diminutive English bottle (lot #0128) dating 1717, with dark olive coloring measuring only 6 1/4” tall. This piece was bickered over for longer than its appearance belied. A $4,000.00 high estimate was nearly doubled and went for the rich price of $7,500. O.K., it apparently has a Benjamin Fredenham stamp. Who are these people? I have a late 18th century, Welsh pot cupboard, dominating my kitchen—for slightly less $$. I rearrange the shelves like my old FAO Schwarz doll house—at least I can play with it.

We really didn’t follow up on Tom’s rare Westerwald collection, which occupied 32 years of happy hunting. Rob Hunter (http://www.perioddesigns.com) of Ceramics in America, captured most of the important pieces, for either himself or clients.  Imagine compressing 32 years of work into a few hours—well worth the premiums. Of the 11 pieces, 4 were over high estimate and 7 were at least double. The big dog was lot # 0093 selling for $5,500, still less than the Fredenham bottle, above, go figure.

For the rugs, all I can say is: “you had to be there.” They did not translate well from the photographs, as the colors were luminous and the animals were charming, radiating love, hearth and home. A rare bias shirred basket of flowers, that had a high estimate of $10,000, evoked gasps when the bidding stopped at $38,000. 

That is a lot of money considering what $38,000 can buy.  With 20-20 hindsight, one could have had both the rare and important “Peaked Apron Group” flat cupboard, from North Carolina that surprisingly sold below low estimates for $14,000 and a stunning Virginia Chippendale desk and bookcase that sold for $18,000. Auctions are surprising for their excesses and their blind spots.

The real show stopper came near the end of the day. This is a cautionary tale for those of you who periodically purge your possessions and a smug moment for the pack rats of the world. An innocent looking 19th century Wachovia banknote check for $10.00, signed by Tom’s Grandfather had the modest high estimate of $500. With Wells Fargo (current owners of Wachovia) bidding aggressively in the front row, and a mystery bidder in the back, heads swiveled back and forth like center court at Wimbledon. Nobody saw 48 times high estimate looming on the horizon of this niche, specialty market. The gentleman in the back pulled a replay of Tony Montag’s bidding style, by merely holding up his card until the auctioneer said “sold”, for the astronomical price of $24,000. That is enough to send most of us shuffling madly through old files in the attic or basement!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thomas A. Gray Auction: Collectors Bullish on Confederate Currency

With a mixture of elation and lament, local friends, family, press and collectors converged to witness the scattering of the passionately assembled collection of Tom Gray a.k.a.: Mr. N.C. Decorative Arts (see our March 23rd posting of our interview with Tom below).  The energetic crowd that gathered in the Salem Academy and College’s Fine Arts Center for the preview reception, was a fusion of intellect and wealth.  Tom’s cachet, as a gentleman, scholar, and collector, attracted representatives from Colonial Williamsburg, Delware’s Winterthur, N.C.’s Tryon Palace, and Virginia’s Gunston Hall.  The high profile museums did not gather merely to socialize, demonstrated by their aggressive bidding the next morning.

Auction preview, March 28, 2010

The auction began at 10 AM the next day, and within minutes, the interest of collectors worldwide was telegraphed to the floor, as all 12 telephone representatives stood to signal the fierce, sophisticated competition. 

Lot # 15

Lot # 15 trampled the high estimate for a North Carolina Piedmont chest of drawers, crushing pervious records.  Heard in the crowd: “Lately they’ve been attainable all day and night from $7,000 - $9,000.”  This hammer came down at $22,000, promoting forgotten pieces from attics and summerhouses to focal point status.  It sent Jane Hill’s (The New Town Bee) pen scribbling furiously from the sidelines.

Lot # 55

A fine English striking lantern (clock) dated 1630 with an estimate of $3,000-$5,000, sent Robert Brunk spinning, as adamant bids came from all directions.  Pantomiming a conductor for the 1812 overture, Brunk revolved between internet, phone, and floor bidders, as the frenzy accelerated, and the price rapidly climbed to $17,000.

Barnard Elliott, Jr., Jeremiah Theus, Gibbes Museum of Art

The unfortunate looking Amarinthia Elliott, created more gyrations.  Her ironically, salacious provenance, having been sold to Tom by Jim Williams, for his murder defense, did not eclipse her proper social origins. This little girl shattered high estimates of $50,000 and someone has now quadrupled Tom’s purchase price, capturing her for $80,000, again smashing previous highs for a Theus.  I was hoping she would return to her brother (pictured above) and sister at The Gibbes, in Charleston. Rumor has it--she’s heading for Motown (The Detroit Institute of Arts). Monetarily, the initial Confederate dollars paid to Theus, continually translate to legal tender. That may be one definition of a masterpiece. 

Lot # 156

Sumpter Priddy III, a preeminent dealer/collector of Alexandria, Virginia with an infallible eye, watched his former Eastern Shore corner cupboard triple high estimates—another record price shattered by this scholarly collection. Lot # 156 was purchased by Roddy Moore of Virgina, for the astronomical price of $60,000.  His adamant bidding from the last row surprised some, observers, as he possesses none of the hauteur one imagines of such an erudite community. I believe that he represented an unknown buyer, as I was standing outside when he was on his cell phone—gleefully eavesdropping.  

Roddy Moore of Virginia

Tony Montag, the legendary collector from Atlanta charmed the room as the stunning North Carolina cellaret—1780-1795 Roanoke River Basin, took center stage. If you have ever wanted to know how to bid at auction, here is how it is done: You hold up your bid number, high with a huge grin on your face, and you leave it there until the auctioneer points at you and says: “sold!”  The room erupted with genuine applause, for both the cellaret and for Tony. This absolutely stunning, simple, master craftsman piece exceeded the previous record of $105,000 for a South Eastern cellaret by $35,000. 

Georgia paint-decorated cellaret, sold for $105,000 on May 30, 2009 through Brunk Auctions

The overriding message this auction transmitted was that South Eastern Decorative Arts are the blue chip holdings in the American antique world, leading the market out of the ashes of this very difficult recession. They are rare, thanks to General Sherman, and the South is finally “much obliged.”

More to come!!