Monthly Archives: February 2012

Bower Power…A Failsafe Formula for Girls Room Decorating

Take a pretty wallpaper and/or fabric in your daughter’s favorite color, whether an Indian block print, a toile or a floral and cover as many surfaces as you can in said fabric, including walls, curtains, headboard, dust ruffle, chairs, pillows and in particular a canopy, if possible. Accent with pretty white linens, a little gingham or stripes for contrast, perhaps a solid color on an upholstered piece and a few complimetary accessories and voila! the perfect girls room.

Katie Ridder using a Muriel Brandolini fabric.

Harlequin’s Amelie

Lewis and Wood Muscat

Elizabeth Mayhew using Albert Hadley‘s Reddish Rose by Hinson.

Palmer Weiss using China Seas Banglore Paisley

Meg Braff using Cowtan & Tout‘s Floral Toile.

Windsor Smith using Peter Dunham‘s Samarkand.

Green and white toile with green and white gingham.

Does anyone else think toile is due for a comeback?

Image Credits: 1.via Katie Ridder, 2. via Harlequin, 3. via Lewis and Wood, 4-7. House Beautiful, photo credit: Annie Schlechter, 8. via Palmer Weiss, 9. House Beautiful May 2006 photo credit: Frances Janisch, 10. House Beautiful December 2012, photo credit: Victoria Pearson, 11. House Beautiful, date and credit unknown.

Consider This…Let Your Silver Tarnish

As I type that title, I feel as if I have written something heretical. You see, my original specialty is antique silver and the hours, multiplied by years, over which I have polished, and polished again, my inventory or my own collection, seem to add up to an eternity. Considering my expertise, its amazing that I don’t write about it more, and perhaps that is something that needs to change. Photographing silver has its own difficulties, so that may be what has put me off. But while there is nothing like the gleam of well polished antique silver – it has a buttery texture all its own – the idea of allowing non-valuable pieces to tarnish and patinate has been taking hold in both my mind and the collective design unconscious for quite some time now. And remember, as tarnish is destructive in the long-term, I think it is important to differentiate between important pieces and those that have little intrinsic value beyond their decorative appeal, like those in the photos below.

Tarnished silver seems to work best with a decor style I’ll call “simple rustic warmth”, illustrated perfectly in these 2 photos by Blayne Beecham. Instead of the more typical china plates, old trays have been stacked as a wall display.

Other details include wood, the more rough and natural the better, furniture with spare lines and luminescent light. Thanks to Donna at A Perfect Gray, where I first saw these posted.

The same idea is at play in this promotional style photo for the new Tresham line of vintage/rustic style vanity and toilet from Kohler.

White paint over wood and other vintage accessories add to the look. Love that repurposed window as cupboard door!

Again, the interplay between beautiful light, white and wood colored accessories in the baskets and birdcages.

This staged display is even more literal with the trays hung on an old wood fence.

These pieces might actually be pewter, but the dark moodiness sings in this photo, so I couldn’t help but include it.

Here Debbie Dusenberry mixes silver platters with other aged items…

…and again here, from Brooke Giannetti, with vintage pocket watches and leather books that stand in for wood.

Heather Bullard takes such gorgeous photos! This one elevates everyday kitchen utensils to an amazing vignette by sorting and storing them in vintage silver trophy cups.

It works equally well in the bathroom too!

Related Posts
Birds and Bamboo…Japonesque Sterling Silver Patterns of the 1870s

Image Credits: 1-2 & 9. via A Perfect Gray, photo credit: Blayne Beecham, 3. Lonny September/October 2011, 3a-3b. via Skonahem, 4. via Jennifer Rizzo, 5. via Martha Stewart Living, 6. Debbie Dusenberry in Better Homes and Gardens, December 2009, 7. via Velvet & Linen, 8. via Heather Bullard.

Views To a Room…Green Guest Bedroom at the Shore

Last year both House Beautiful‘s February color issue and Pantone pegged pink as the color of the year. This year, Pantone chose tangerine for 2012, but the magazine has struck out on their own with a green issue, so I am going to use this as an excuse to write about the color for me personally. One of my most popular posts features moody deep green rooms, but I have also been tracking soft green spaces as inspiration for my guest room in the New Jersey beach house.

One of my earliest tear sheets, I carried the image below in my minds eye, knowing I would try to employ its best features one day. It seems fitting that the room that started my journey towards a simple but elegant country bedroom painted green – not sage, not mint –  but that elusive color in between which didn’t seem to exist until Farrow & Ball, comes from the same magazine, although an issue that is almost 20 years old now. I love the dragged effect on the walls too and have it as a “possible” on my own checklist. The “definites” on that list include the white framed windows, simple sheers, wooden furniture, lace-edged white bedding, a duvet covered in green and white ticking, some tiny prints as shown on the wallpapered screen and a comfy antique chair in the corner. A cloth-covered table is a possible too. Some of the details are pre-existing, like the sloped ceiling and bare wood floors, both of which I have in my guest room.

A more recent photo with the same appeal adds some other requirements. Again there are the lovely soft green walls, simple white bedding (matelesse in this case), wooden furniture and corner chair, but a matched set of herbiers, pressed botanicals, has been added.

This room punches the wall color up a few notches, but manages to make what is normally an eyesore – the ceiling fan – look good, something else I am attempting. As much as I wish I could take mine out for aesthetic reasons, a summer house just needs ceiling fans for practicality and being green – the other kind of green that is. In particular I love the botanical prints and their pyramidal arrangement here.

No doubt about it, groupings of small vintage prints are a must!

This oft blogged about photo from Martha Stewart Living is more elegant and formal than my house can pull off, but I do so love it!

I’ve pulled this bathroom photo because I love the ebonized aesthetic movement cabinet against the green. The ornate quality of the cabinet is lessened by the austerity of the space. My plan is similar, but I am using an amazing grouping of antique faux bamboo furniture from the same period instead.

Not painted but wallpapered, this room just charms the pants off of me! I love the contrast of flowers with the plaid rug (plaid being another pattern I would like to add), the lines of the chairs, the Victorian magazine stand, and the wisp of a ruffled valence.

Drumroll please…and a disclaimer on the photos. I do promise to do a proper job this summer, using all the great techniques I am learning from Camille at The Vintique Object. But in the meantime, please excuse these quick point and shoot versions.

I have made quite a bit of progress, although the lamps look anemic without their long-awaited lampshades. The room is small, with two windows, a closet and a sloped ceiling on one side. We have painted it Farrow & Ball Green Ground and I am still considering doing a dragging technique on it to give it a little texture. Check mark to the white lace and matelesse bedding and antique botanical prints, a local bargain find. I am working on the ticking duvet cover by sewing one from a fabric shower curtain, but in the meantime I have added a vintage plaid woolen blanket for warmth, both literal and visual.  You can see bits of the faux bamboo furniture peeking out and the strings hanging from the ceiling fan (Oh, I had not noticed that tassel – gotta get it off).

Tiny prints include the patterns on the custom lamp shades (the color looks off in the photo below) still to come and valances made of Kathryn Ireland’s Diamond Batik fabric.

The vintage chair in the corner is out at the upholsterer’s getting redone in the linen floral shown draped over it – unfortunately the name of the pattern escapes me right now. You can see the edge of the mirrored dresser which functions as both storage and a dressing table, so useful in a guest room without its own bath. I am working on layering up the artwork, but want to let it evolve naturally as I find things.

There is still much to do, but I think most of my guests last summer found it quite comfortable!

Related Posts:
Gorgeous Green…Rooms Inspired by a Bamboo Forest
Ume Blooming…Maybe Pantone Should Have Called Their Color of the Year Plum Blossom?
O-Hanami Decorating…Pale Pink Bedrooms for Cherry Blossom Season

Image credits: House Beautiful February 2012, photo credit: xxx, 2. House Beautiful December 1994, photo credit: xxx, 3. Country Living January 2006, photo credit: David Prince, 4. Mary Cooper, no credit, 5. via Chiarabelle’s Flickr photostream, 6-7 Martha Stewart Living, 8. photo credit unknown – please let me know if you have any information on this, 8-9, 11. me, 10. via Kathryn Ireland.

Shrine Sale Stories…Yamamoto’s Steamer Trunk

First there was Yamamura’s suitcase, now there is Yamamoto’s trunk. With its bottle green leather exterior, fine strap work, brass fittings and nailhead detail, it is a handsome example of that species better known as a steamer trunk.

My estimate on date as I bought it was 1920s or 1930s based on its style and materials. Thanks to reader Mary Doveton, who had helped me decipher the hotel labels on Yamamura’s suitcase, we seem to be confirming that date. A quick search of the names on the label – Tajimaya 但馬屋 (Tajima which is the family name and ya which means shop) and Hiroshima 広島 – yields a shop of that name specialising in luggage and bags that has been around since 1919. Keijo was the name for Seoul when it was under Japanese occupation from 1910-1945, so it seems as if they had a branch there as well and that further confirms the time period. I have actually written to Tajimaya and attached photos of the trunk, so we will see if we get a reply!

The roots of modern trunks lie in the ancient forms of Asian travel boxes which had iron handles on either end in which to thread a carrying pole, in contrast to Europe and America, where chests were made for storage and kept in the house, such as a trousseau or hope chest a bride would take with her to marriage. It was only later, in the romantic age of travel and with the success of a young Frenchman named Louis Vuitton (and all his copycats even then) in the second half of the 19th century that trunks took on such a Western form and association.

While I have only recently discovered Yamamoto’s trunk at the Kawagoe shrine sale, I had already saved some screen shots of the huge curated sale of vintage and antique steamer trunks on One Kings Lane in November. The pictures are fascinating in their variety of shape, color, material and price.

Obviously few people travel with trunks anymore these days, but they have taken on a popular new life as coffee tables. Their boxy shape fits with different decor, the simple flat top is easy to style and perhaps, best of all, they offer spare storage space.

Scott Currie creates a gorgeously elegant room with a fantastic nailhead edged ship captains chest. Make sure to look at that coral aquarium atop the Dorothy Draper style chest (it is a beach house after all) and the bottle lamp in the corner.

In contrast to the vibrantly colored beach house above is Victoria Hagan‘s study in white, again punctuated by a fantastic trunk rimmed in nailheads.

And another similar one in this wood-paneled library, also by Victoria Hagan.

The combination of trunk, clock, industrial lamp, along with the needlepoint pillow (more on those soon) and Union Jack on the velvet Chesterfield strikes a perfect eclectic mix. I love how casual but interesting this room is.

On the other hand, a vintage trunk can soften even the most formal of rooms.

If you know me and my obsessions, I am sure you’ll realize that I am as captivated by those glass bottles atop the secretary as the creamy trunk.

There were numerous metal clad chests in the OKL photos above. Here Emily Henderson from Secrets of a Stylist uses a similar one in this light filled LA living room.

She also uses another trunk, this time in rich aged leather, to anchor the den in the same house.

For the most part I have avoided the whole luxury trunk market (i.e. Louis Vuitton) in this post as there are lots of images out there on other blogs and websites, but I couldn’t resist this one doing double duty as storage in the small NYC studio apartment of Nausheen Shah as this 1890s LV trunk has labels from Japan and Singapore. If you do want to see more images with Louis Vuitton trunks, take a look at my Vintage Luggage board on Pinterest.

In terms of trends, you can’t imagine how many of the images featuring trunks are laid across zebra or other animal hide rugs like the ones above. I think the trunks bring up romantic images of 19th century travel to far-flung exotic places, so I get the combination, but I actually prefer the perfect global mix below. That canopy is amazing!

Coincidentally, in terms of Japanese influence on the world, did you know that the Louis Vuitton monogram was a Victorian invention derived from the Japanese motifs so popular in Europe at that time? Think about it – kamon anyone?

I hope you enjoyed this week of shrine sale stories, featuring something high-end (the French bar cart), something low-brow (the laundry hangers) and now something in between!

Related Posts:
If Only This Suitcase Could Talk
Research From a Reader…More On Yamamura-San’s Suitcase
Yamamura Really Got Around…More Details on His Suitcase Travels

Image credits; 1-2. me, 3-5. screenshots via One Kings Lane, 6. via The Meadows Antiques and Interiors, 7. Elle Decor July 2009, photo credit: Roger Davies, 8. House Beautiful June 1999, photo credit: William Waldron, 9. via Victoria Hagan, 10. via, 11. House Beautiful June 2002, photo credit: Carlos Emilio, 12. Country Living October 2010, 13-14. via HGTV, 15. via A Shah’s Life, 16. House Beautiful October 1993, photo credit: Richard Felber, 17. via

Laundry, Lighting, Pictures and Postcards

It’s a common enough sight around the globe, particularly in third world countries, but ironically popular here in Japan. For some reason, perhaps health, perhaps energy conservation, perhaps small living spaces, the art of hanging out laundry continues to be practised here with great flair. Elaborate hanging devices dot the balconies of even the fanciest buildings in the toniest neighborhoods. Futons are aired regularly on sunny days. So it’s no surprise that amongst the pickings of a shrine sale I have encountered vintage laundry hangers, including these gaily colored enamel ones. Too cute to leave behind, but the question remains, “What are you going to do with them?”

In the grand spirit of repurposing, I have a few ideas. Recently I have noticed all kinds of unusual photo display holders at the homes of my (almost) teenaged daughter’s friends. They are great for catching photo strips and mementos in an ever rotating display, like this one from Amazon

…or this one from Target

…or this one from IKEA.

So using one for a photo display would be easy and fun, but I have another idea. That very same daughter collects vintage postcards (coincidence?) and wishes to display them more publicly than just in an album. So we loaded up one of the purple colored holders with her language of flowers postcards…

…thinking it would look lovely suspended in her lilac bedroom at the shore.

While not normally a black and white kind of gal, I have long loved the simple palette perfection of Ellen O’Neill’s Gramercy Park studio, including its amazing Ingo Maurer Zettel’z 5 chandelier. Referred to as “interactive suspension lighting” in its sales material, Zettel’z “is a grand chandelier where the Bohemian crystal drops are substituted by scribbled paper notes from some incurable romantic’s desk.

The interactive thing about it is you can change out the standard notes it comes with and put up your own. O’Neill refers to hers as her “bulletin board.”

It isn’t only the chandelier that grabs my attention. I think that amazing wire parasol frame above the mantel might be my favorite item in the apartment, reminding me of another laundry hanger in my collection – this one possibly old enough to be called antique. Its wire curls are sculptural and eye-catching, much like that frame.

I think it would be easy to rig up a hanging light on a cord, suspend it through the center of the laundry hanger and clip on all kinds of mementos to construct a makeshift but infinitely more personal version of the Zettel’z. It would certainly be easier than constructing one from scratch, like Mavromatic did, and make a better looking fixture than the advice given over at Apartment Therapy.

Love notes and language of flower postcards just in time for Valentines Day.

Image credits: 1. L. George, 2, 6-7 & 11. me, 3. Amazon, 4. Target, 5. IKEA, 8-10. House Beautiful July 2010, photo credit: Thomas Loof, 12. via Mavromatic.

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