While we are at it, let’s return to that same photo of the wall and staircase at the beach house from my last post, but this time, let’s talk about what is going in front of it. I need a piece of furniture that will hold extra serving pieces and platters, table linens, a lamp, alcohol and bar accoutrements. Basically a sideboard, but I imagine something more open. My dream piece has been a traditional Georgian or Regency period English butler’s trolley, also known as a dumbwaiter. Everywhere I look these days, bar carts are the trendy thing to have, but I find them a bit small and flimsy, and I prefer the stolid-ness of the trolley.
If you ignore the yellow sofa, this Jeffrey Bilhuber designed dining room in Bridgehampton has a very similar feel to my space. Dark table and floorboards, pale painted chairs, big bay window with white trim and blue-grey walls. He also has a dumbwaiter on the right hand wall, put to use exactly as I would like to. The whole house is light and lovely and gorgeous and well worth scrolling through here.
Christopher Spitzmiller uses a trolley to hold his bar goods, but also copper pots and kitchen items. Maybe this one is in a butler’s pantry?
I spy one against the wall in this eclectic Spanish apartment.
And Tom Scheerer has one stocked to the brim in the Bahamas.
Visually, I love the attractive open display of everyday objects. Kathryn Ireland uses a table with a lower shelf the same way in her house in France.
And maybe what I am truly drawn to is all the alcohol bottles arranged on or in a basket, like the photos above and this below…
…or this. Tom Scheerer again!
So I went and checked out the easiest and most well stocked antiques resource on the internet – 1stdibs. There was no problem finding some gorgeous examples, like this one from Huntington House Antiques…
…or this one from Hollyhock. There were a number of other lovely examples, but all are in the $5000+ range. Ouch!
I was determined to take a look at one in person to see the scale and proportions up close. Finding one in Tokyo also fulfils a dual role, which is to prove that absolutely everything is available somewhere in Japan if only you know where to look. In Hiroo, not far from my house is an antiques store called The Penny Wise, which imports furniture from all over Europe. In addition, they have another nearby shop that stocks scrubbed pine and Colonial Check fabrics as well as a huge warehouse in Kachidoki. So I took a quick walk down the hill and voilà!
Exactly what I was looking for. They also have a few more in the warehouse. And the price? Around $4500, which is unexpectedly less than the ones in the USA. The Penny Wise tends to be a real “brown” furniture shop, but they stock just about everything and I am not surprised to have found one on my very first try.
Ironically, the other item of furniture I am looking for is a china cabinet. I have been imagining something kind of 1920s, with legs off the floor and a casual paint job. Something like this…
And guess what else The Penny Wise had in stock? This!
Thinking about painted furniture makes me wonder if I might prefer a painted piece in that spot as I already have a dark wooden dining table. Maison Maison on 1stdibs had this example.
Not long ago I visited another great Tokyo antiques shop at the far side of Meguro called Found, which has great displays of on-trend French furniture made more casual by stripping and painting techniques. If you are looking for a chair upholstered in feed sack burlap, Found is the place to go. They had a small painted shelf piece, which while not officially a trolley, could work well.
Their artfully staged vignettes, like this one with a 19th century china cabinet and bentwood chairs (which are just as trendy in Tokyo right now as they are in the US) are fun to browse. Hmmm…I am liking these dark accents too. Perhaps a china cabinet painted dark grey or black might be a perfect punctuation point.
While we are talking about black, maybe it isn’t a light painted piece I want, but a dark one.
and I missed a half-price one in his Tastemaker Sale at One Kings Lane last year. Here’s another view of it. Too fancy? Maybe…
I have also been wondering about this marble top console table from Wisteria. At $899, it seems like a bargain in comparison and I love the practicality of the marble top. But maybe a little small and too French?
After all this thought about the open shelves of a butler’s trolley, I remembered another ingenious bar idea. Rita Konig wrote in The New York Times about her friend Amanda Lindroth’s makeshift bar. Basically it is a chest of drawers in the hall which she styles like a bar during a party, pulling out the top drawers to hold pitchers and ice buckets and arranging glasses and bottles in a basket on top.
Just thinking that there is a lot to be said for closed storage too…
If you are new to Tokyo or just plain old tired of Ikea, bad furniture and fake Chinese antiques, I recommend the stretch of Meguro-dori running southwest from the Meguro station for a few miles. There must be more than 50 antique and home decor shops, with everything from mid-century modern to Louis XV. The Penny Wise would represent the northernmost end of the strip and Found would be the furthest south. I have long been planning on a walking guide to all the shops, but life keeps getting in the way. I promise one next autumn, and in the meantime, feel free to email me with any questions.
Image credits: 1. Elle Decor July 2007, photo credit: Pieter Estersohn, 2.Elle Decor December 2006, photo credit: unknown, 3. Nuevo Estilo via A Perfect Gray, 4. via Tom Scheerer, photo credit: Pieter Estersohn, 5. House Beautiful November 2009, photo credit: Kathryn Ireland, 6. House Beautful June 2009, photo credit:Reed Davis, 7. via Tom Scheerer, photo credit: Matthew Hranek, 8-9 & 14. via 1stdibs, 10-11, 13, 15-17. me, 12. via Houzz, 18-19. via Michael Smith, 20. Wisteria, 21-22. The New York Times, January 12, 2010, photo credit: Rita Konig.