Monthly Archives: May 2012

Sayonara Series…Antique Furniture in Warm Modern Spaces

I couldn’t resist using this photo for my lead-off as it’s title – The Warm Side of Modern – says it all. Let’s say the look of my previous post is not to your taste – too bare, too white, too stark, too new. What to do then? Try treating your Asian pieces as another element in the mix – layering is the key here. Combine items from all different periods and places and be sure to include color, particularly on the walls to warm the space. Tablescaping, collections and details are important too. Throwing in iconographic modern pieces like these Saarinen Executive chairs doesn’t hurt either.

This bedroom, with its Venetian plaster wallpaper, a Murano glass lamp atop a Chinese bedside table, an antique Bessarabian kilim under a 1960s rope-and-rosewood chair from Brazilian designer Jean Gillon, demonstrates just the kind of eclectic mix I am talking about.

This glamorous room by Mary McDonald escapes being called traditional through its single color upholstery, strong graphic lines and large modern art, from the Chinese lacquer cabinet to the French antique chair.

In another view of the same room, the unexpected high gloss leather on that Louis chair adds a modern note to an antique piece – mixing materials is another great strategy to keep antiques from looking old-fashioned in any way.

Every room in Candia Fisher‘s New York apartment is blog-worthy so I can’t stop featuring it, this study being no exception. The surprise of a Chinese table in blue lacquer hits the same note as the patent leather on the Louis chair above. Be sure to note the great Chinese art deco rug on the floor.

Mixing in ethnic textiles and combining global accessories from different cultures is another way to create a fresh warm look. Here Kathryn Ireland puts a Chinese table in with suzani style fabric and a Moroccan lantern.

This bedroom features a similar combination with its Chinese bench, suzani as bedcover and another Moroccan lantern. A surefire formula!

Next in the series will feature styling accessories and collections! Send me photos if you have some you’d like to share!

Sayonara Series…Antique Furniture in Cool Modern Spaces

What if your style is prevailing modern, but while you lived in Japan (or China or Indonesia or India or Europe or anywhere else) you managed to acquire an antique cabinet or tansu or table that you are not sure fits into your spare aesthetic? One strategy that tends to be successful in contemporary interiors is to treat the item as an objet d’arte – to set it off on its own punctuated by only a few accessories and gallery style white walls. A small bit of punchy bright color will also lighten the mood, or as in the case of the antique Chinese wedding cabinet below, quite a bit of color. Also note the single graphic note struck by the antique Japanese spinning wheel placed on top.

In this stunning room a pair of Chinese lacquered chests crowned by a collection of bird cages functions in a similar fashion. The purple on the chair and the green on the trunk coffee table provide color in the otherwise neutral space. I love how the height of the birdcage topped cabinets lines up with the graphic dark window mullions.

In a glamorous Manhattan loft Chinese pieces mix with modern icons like the Barcelona couch by Mies van der Rohe. A similar lacquered cabinet to the ones in the photo above is topped with a single decorative object, while a red lacquer bench provides a note of color. Walls of mirror further reflect the light and seem to double the size of the space, making it seem as if there is a pair of cabinets in this photo too.

This home in the Pacific Northwest is punctuated by not one but two pawlonia wood and iron strap tansu and a wild chartreuse sofa. I love the open plan space but I am not as hot on the sofa. An exciting detail in this photo is the Japanese silkworm tray basket hung on the wall above the larger tansu. A favorite item of mine for decorating, I have never seen one used in an interior photographed for any magazine or other interior design press.

Low slung modern beds are a perfect match for sword tansu in bedrooms, here anchoring a gallery wall…

…and here at the foot of the bed.

Is this your style? If not, coming soon – Sayonara Series…Antique Furniture in Warm Modern Spaces.

For many more photos of tansu in modern and traditional interiors, check out my previous posts Where Do You Tansu? and Where Do You Tansu? Part II.

Image credits: 1 & 4. Metropolitan Home April 2009, photo credit: Erik Johnson, 2. credit unknown, via American Gypsy Living, 3. Elle Decor September 2005, photo credit: William Waldron, 5. Elle Decor March 2012, photo credit: William Waldron, 6. Metropolitan Home April 2009, photo credit: John Ellis

New Sayonara Series…Mixing In Asian Pieces

This time of year, like always, is bittersweet. It is sayonara season in Tokyo as the school year comes to a close and people get ready to leave, some just for the summer but others forever. Jobs get reassigned back in the US or other home countries, or sometimes there are new assignments, new adventures in store for folks. I have had a flurry of new clients recently who want help sorting out what else they should rush to purchase and pack into their containers and more importantly, how to deploy it all when they get home. Many have entire households of furniture back in the States in a totally different style while others have filled their homes here with tons of Japanese and Chinese pieces that need some space inserted between them to feel fresh. I wonder if the word fusion is too trite to use these days – it is actually quite apropos – and honestly what this blog is so often about, but there is truly a need to fuse their items together to make a cohesive decorative whole.

As a result I am launching a new regular sayonara series, not meant to be comprehensive, but instead to a focus on an idea, a decorative item or answer a question from a reader specifically about integrating their old life into their new one. Since I attended a sayonara party last night – a “college graduation” party – that required me to dress as I did in college, which for me was an Indian print skirt (who else remembers Putumayo?) and Birkenstocks (which I have had to borrow as I forced my self to graduate from them years ago), I decided to focus on the mix of Chinese and Japanese antiques with Indian block prints and other South East Asian textiles to lighten them up. It doesn’t hurt that I have some of this mix going on in my TV room project at the beach house too.

This Chinese cabinet in an older version of Windsor Smith‘s bedroom is just the kind of piece that people living in Asia have purchased. Functional in any room, I love it in the bedroom where all the soft furnishings and fabrics can lighten its dark heaviness. The ruffled bed valence and mix of Indian block print textiles – in indigo no less – link through their shared exoticism to form a pleasing contrast. Vintage luggage junkie me loves the travel reference too that all the Louis Vuitton makes piled on top of the armoire. The graphic modern rug, which looks to be Madeline Weinrib, keeps the space grounded but is much fresher than a Persian.

Here’s the mix again in bedroom designed by Amelia T. Handegan for her South Carolina bungalow. The Chinese table (doesn’t everyone here have one?) and mirror play off the soft paisley of the bedding. The graphic black and white striped rug keeps the space modern and casual. Actually, Handegan’s entire cottage is an exercise in just the kind of mixing I adore and well worth scrolling through on the great new Architectural Digest website. She even repurposes an old Chinese table as a bathroom vanity.

For me personally, I have just scooped up a nice sized remnant of Michael Smith’s Devonshire for Jasper fabric, thinking the tiny print and deeply stained background will make nice pillows to add to the textile mix in the back TV room.

So send me your conundrums – include photos is if you can – and let’s start a conversation about how to integrate our wonderful finds into our larger decorative life. Cheers!


A Television Solution From My Notting Hill and Ballard Designs

So let’s head back on over to the back TV room at the beach house. I’ve talked recently about the light fixtures, the ceiling fan and the curtains, but one of the most pressing problems involves the main purpose of the room – watching television. Right now our TV has been sitting on our wicker porch table (which I would like back) as a stop-gap as we decided whether to hang it on the wall or figure out something to put it on. Since the room is tiny, hanging it seemed to make the most sense but I just couldn’t reconcile it with the style or the room, nor did it solve the problem of what to do with all the components (cable box, DVD player, etc). Over and over again I kept coming back to this photo of Abby Rizor‘s house in Florida. Placing the television on a slim etagere style bookshelf allows it to be unobtrusive while offering tremendous styling and display opportunities. That single high shelf doesn’t hurt either.

I began to think about the idea of open shelves – wooden – with some kind of metal frame, giving the unit a casual but slightly industrial feel and to look for inspiration photos with that aesthetic.

These are in a kitchen, but if you think about the microwave as if it was the TV, the idea holds.

One Kings Lane had this vintage bookcase a while back, (perhaps in March?) as part of a Tastemaker Tag Sale from Knight Moves (I think) and I bookmarked it both mentally and physically.

It got me remembering a great post from Michele over at My Notting Hill. She bought an inexpensive Sonoma Bookcase from Ballard Designs on sale…

…and styled it brilliantly.

That promptly sent me over to the website to look at their product photos and measurements. The upper shelves are a shallow 12 inches and the lower ones 16, which is about 4 inches narrower than what the TV had been resting on, freeing up space in the room. It also looked like the TV would fit perfectly, actually even tightly, both vertically and horizontally, which I thought would be more attractive…

…than this one, sent in by a customer, with a TV, but a slightly too small TV. So I waited for a sale offer too – it was $499 list but why not spend 25% less? – and then I pulled the plug and ordered it.

Now don’t hold your breath! Here’s the horrible crooked photo my handyman just sent me. But close your eyes and imagine the shelves all styled with books and tchotkes and baskets holding the ugly stuff. Imagine all the cords gathered and tied and hidden. And realize the paint color looks sickly green and awful here but it isn’t.

That makes two pieces from Ballard. Imagine that!

Related Posts:
Found! Kilim Footstools in Tokyo and Decisions on the TV Room
Sweating the Details…A Round-Up of Brass Library Wall Sconces
Just in Time…Last Piece of Cream Hibiscus Branch From Aleta
Beach Baskets…PaperGlueBamboo Sale and an Idea for the Ceiling Fan

Image credits: 1. House Beautiful, photo credit: Thibault Jeanson, 2. Ginger Barber via Cote de Texas, 3. Elle Decor September 2010, photo credit: Roger Davies, 4. via One Kings Lane, 5-6. via My Notting Hill, 7-8. via Ballard Designs, 9.

Everyone’s Got the Blues…Indigo Pillow Round-Up

Was it this room in the October 2010 issue of Lonny that started it?

Or this one in the November 2010 issue of Elle Decor?

Either way, I don’t know the answer, but it is no longer just my own selective perception. I figure everyone must be tired of ikat and suzani throw pillows, as every time I turn around (or actually, click on a link) I come across indigo pillows, new and vintage, shibori or tie dyed, sashiko stitched, wax-resist dyed, printed and other techniques, all reminiscent of or actually made from Japanese textiles. Not a new topic for me at all, but I do think they have gone from being a rarely seen item to being prevalent and readily available. So if you are not here in Japan where you can stop by a shrine sale and pick up Japanese textiles to sew into pillows, or if you like your pillows ready-made, here’s a look at what’s out there.

There are certain places you’d expect to find them of course…John Robshaw for instance (his room is the top one above).  The website has tie dyed pillows for sale which I won’t call shibori as I believe they are made in India, not Japan.

Jayson Home & Garden still stocks the Zoe tie dyed pillow in the second photo, but unfortunately they are out of the blue and only have it in sage and plum. Don’t despair as Roni over at The Loaded Trunk has a nice selection of hand tied indigo pillows as well as a full assortment of Moroccan, Kuba cloth, Hmong, Afghan, Mexican, Indian – you name it – pillows from around the world.

Here’s a close up of the big 24 inch pillow on the floor in the photo above. It would make a good substitute for the ones in the Elle Decor photo.

Anupama also has a wide range of global pillows, including this typical shibori circles pillow…

…and this more unusual beehive shibori pattern.

Big shibori furoshiki (wrapping cloths) make great floor pillows as shown here by these from Ouno Design. I recently sourced a great furoshiki that designer and friend Maja Smith is making into one for her Lake Tahoe home. Looking forward to photos of that!

One Kings Lane has had some very authentic looking pillows from a shop called Viridian made from vintage tsutsugaki (literally, tube drawing) textiles, a paste resist method of decoration…

…as well as others made using the katazome (stencil paste resist) method from Erin Taylor of Botanik.

There are also some boro (tattered rags) styles too.

Even mainstream retailers are getting into the game. While Anthropologie is no longer stocking the Japanese inspired bedding and pillows they had last year, Serena and Lily, normally so preppy and demure, has been stepping up their game with an online bazaar filled with vintage accessories as well as their line of linens and furniture. They have also caught a bit of that boro fever…

…and have some new Japanese inspired textiles.

Even Ralph Lauren isn’t being left out with his Indigo Modern Stripe Collection, a dip dyed pillow and sheeting set.

Related Posts:
Tie Dye Heaven…Painterly Effects from Monique Lhuillier and Eskayel
A Little Shibori Feeling From Eskayel and Anthropologie
Selective Perception…Maekake at the Heiwajima Antiques Fair and Kawagoe Shrine Sale

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