Color

Sleeping in a Cloud…Dreamy Gray Bedrooms

Funnily enough, as I was packing paperwork for our trip back to the US this summer, I stumbled across an old folder with some of my long-term gray bedroom inspiration images. In light of my last post, I can’t resist sharing them, although they are actually the old-fashioned version of actual tear sheets and in most cases I have no information on designer or publication. If you know any of the details, please drop me a comment and I will be sure to credit it.

Familiar players appear in this tight shot reflected back in a gorgeous Venetian mirror, including it, lovely white linens, stripey gray silk taffeta and European style bed. I’m not sure I would ever get up if this was my bed.

CCF08062014_00001

This is one of the earliest images, torn from The Washington Post Magazine and dated Oct. 4, 1992. It is on very faded paper, but I promise you it is gray, as is that standout Belgian cabinet. Just noticed now that there is even a blanc de Chine figure on the ledge.

CCF08062014_00002

I always had a hankering for a bit of architectural wall detail, which has been created here with the simple use of different color gray paints. There is some ticking stripe here too – in the bed hangings for instance – although it is hard to tell in the beautiful bright light of the photo.

gray Bedroom country swedish

In this very well-known bedroom by Mary McDonald from the November 2001 issue of House & Garden, photographed by Melanie Acevedo, simple molding has been painted out in white to create architectural interest. In the end, I have never had a space that would have been suited by this kind of detail, but I always love it. Note the Bagues sconces over the fireplace and the bits of ticking stripe amid all the stark gray and white. The natural floor covering warms things up, which is something I should consider.

Mary McDonald gray bedroom

Other images, saved the more modern way on my computer include this divine one by Alex Papachristidi in a 2006 Elle Decor. Yards and yards of gray silk taffeta tempered by the contrasting glow of the gleaming antique commode and gilt-wood mirrors.

Alex Papachristidis ED 11-06 pc Simon Upton

Another influential Papachristidis image is from the living room of the same apartment (and the one the cover of his book The Age of Elegance), in particular the grid of black and white images above the daybed.

Alex Papachristidis

A corner in Suzanne Rheinstein’s NYC apartment is another favorite, with its Bagues sconces and Gustavian settee covered in what looks to be a very fine stripe. The whole apartment is subtle and full of gray and can be seen in Elle Decor.

pied-a-terre-new-york-ed1110-rheinstein-05-lgn

Do you keep tear sheets? I still like them better than Pinterest somehow – more tactile, more real.

Related Posts on Color:
More Pale Grey From Abroad
Today’s Treasure…Nautilus in Shades of Grey and White
Feeling Blue…The Perfect Library
O-Hanami Decorating…Pale Pink Bedrooms for Cherry Blossom Season
Ume Blooming…Maybe Pantone Should Have Called Their Color of the Year Plum Blossom?
Gorgeous Green…Rooms Inspired by a Bamboo Forest
Views To a Room…Green Guest Bedroom at the Shore
Living Lavender Dreams
Golden Ginkgo…Warm Yellow Tones for Autumn

 

Friday Flowers

As simple as it sounds, the act of buying flowers for your apartment holds great significance and will heal your home on many levels.
-Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan

Friday Flowers Valentines Day

Apartment Therapy ran a January Cure this year to help readers get their home spaces under control, fresh, clean and organized. Since we had just recently moved in, I was in good shape (except for a few still lingering boxes) but I loved the idea. The biggest takeaway for me was the weekly purchase of flowers, ideally on Friday for full weekend enjoyment. I’ve always bought flowers intermittently, but I love my new weekly ritual and the simple pleasure they bring me.

A new friend gifted me with this small glass pitcher (and this first set of bright anemones) which has been living ever since on the dining room table. It’s the perfect size to put almost any kind of flower, being a bit tall and thin, and therefore budget friendly by not requiring too many stems. It also sits perfectly on my new Nada Debs tray, a Valentine gift from my sweet husband. I’ve been keeping something in rotation ever since.

Friday flowers anemone

Other times, all my blue and white porcelain cries out for a little company, so larger stems usually go there on the altar table in the entry. It’s lovely to open the front door and be greeted immediately.

Friday flowers hydrangea and ranunculus blue white porcelain

Jenny ran a great post on making the most from inexpensive grocery store flowers the other day, although in the desert there are no inexpensive flowers to be had. But I just adored the way she repurposed this sake set in her Instagram feed using them. Sake sets are something I see at shrine sales all the time but never really have a purpose for. Not so anymore!

Jenny Komenda instagram sake set flowers

Speaking of shrine sales, that small hibachi with the asa-no-ha pattern that I showed in my last post turns out to be the perfect size for an orchid. And to think I almost decided it was too heavy to bother carrying back! Whew!

blue and white hibachi orchid

Today’s hyacinths are blush pink and not yet fully opened, a sure sign of spring. Imported from somewhere of course – I think the temperature might have started to push 90 in the sun today so I am not sure it qualifies as spring here anymore.

Friday Flowers hyacinths

I wish there was a smell function on the blog so their heady fragrance could waft right out of your computer.

Do you buy flowers regularly? Are there other small home rituals you love? I’d love to hear about them. While I’m not really on the mindfulness bandwagon, I do find my life here smaller and more tied to home, so the little things matter. Follow my Friday flowers on Instagram #godisinthedetails.

Is Blanc de Chine Chinoiserie?

I’ve been meaning to write a post on blanc de Chine porcelain, literally French for white from China, for ages, probably from as far back as the Great Japan Earthquake of 2011. Many of you may remember this photo of the small pieces of my collection tossed around our house after the original quake and my tongue in cheek relief that none had broken. Blanc de Chine was my porcelain collectible of choice when we lived in Hong Kong in 1997-98.

Blanc de chine on the floor

Blanc de Chine wares have been produced for centuries in Dehua, a town in the coastal Chinese province of Fujian, since the Song dynasty (960-1279), reaching their peak production between the 16th and 19th centuries. Exported in great numbers throughout Asia, in particular to Japan before its trade restrictions in the 17th century, and later in mass quantity to Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, the pottery is best known for its depictions of Buddhist deities, which were used for home worship on family altars. The traditional Guanyin figurines – the Goddess of Mercy – so associated with blanc de Chine, are the same as the Japanese Kannon goddess, and often written in a variety of other ways such as Quan Yin, Kwan Yun, etc., in other cultures.

blanc de chine guanyin figure 18thc

The look is so associated with Dehua kilns although porcelain of this variety was copied elsewhere, mainly in the nearby Jingdezhen kilns in Jiangxi province. The Dehua kilns were unusual in that there was a real division of labor as the items were made by mold, not on a potter’s wheel. Incised and applied decorations were added by the skilled artisans and the wares are fired at the highest possible temperatures. The clay itself is quite unusual, having very little iron oxide in it, which allows for the unusual pure color. But I think it is the shiny, almost wet looking glaze melded to the porcelain that makes it so appealing.

As I am always careful to warn people, there are serious problems with dating and attribution when it comes to Chinese porcelain – blanc de Chine is no exception – and even the experts can be fooled. Without a long history or provenance it is quite difficult to estimate when a piece was made, particularly as the same forms were produced for centuries. Also, much of the later white porcelain is not actually from Dehua and instead from Jingdezhen. Scholars argue all the time about color and translucence with the general feeling being that the older Dehua pieces have a more bone or ivory color and the Jingdezhen pieces are a true dead white. Yet I have seen pure white pieces at auction at reputable dealers labeled as Dehua blanc de Chine. Modern pieces are most distinctly that very pure white. Curieuse Chine keeps an incredible Pinterest page replete with many museum quality examples if you’d like to see more.

The modern design world has certainly taken note of blanc de Chine and designers such as Charlotte Moss, Mary McDonald,

marymcdonald blanc de chine figurines via style carrot

Ruthie Sommers and others have used it to great decorative effect. Blogs such as Chinoiserie Chic and others feature it on a regular basis.

Ruthie Sommers via Chinoiserie Chic

Often seen is this classic and formal way to display the white figurines on brackets or corbels.

Godwin Blanc de Chine

It’s also quite common to turn the large statuettes into lamps which are extremely popular. I have a funny little caveat about these lamps found at the bottom of the post.

Blanc de Chine lamps via 1st dibs Winston

Blanc de Chine jumped back onto my radar when we visited Blenheim Palace, the home of the Dukes of Marlborough in England last month. There were fantastic Chinese porcelain collections – blue and white, famille rose – but I had never seen so much blanc de Chine and of such a variety and provenance in one place. The collection at Blenheim demonstrates the variety of objects made, which if you rule out all the different positions and details in the figurines, is actually not that great. The Dehua clay was not suited to making plates and large vases so smaller ornaments and the dense statues became their speciality. At Blenheim I saw foo dogs and other animals, libation cups in the shape of rhinoceros horn and a teapot with applied branches and flowers, small pierced cups and vessels and porcelain stands. This collection of about 40 pieces was supposedly given to the fourth Duke of Marlborough by a Mr. Spalding at the end of the eighteenth century at the height of the craze for all things Chinese. The impoverished eighth Duke (Winston Churchill’s uncle) auctioned most of the china from Blenheim at Christie’s in London in 1886 although the ninth Duke made the savvy choice of marrying heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt and later recovered and repurchased them and returned them to their rightful place.

Bleinheim blanc de chine

Note the central teapot with its plum blossom motif which is actually very similar to the pieces in my own collection. I’m particularly enamoured of the items with the applied motifs and if you think about it, the plum blossoms have been rendered in a very Japanese style. Looking back, I wonder if that was what appealed to me about them even as I was living in China.

blanc de chine teapot Blenheim

I wish I had better photos of my blanc de Chine to show you, but that will have to wait until I unpack the container next month. Most of my items are more workaday pieces, not the popular Buddhist figurines, much like this lidded jar.

blanc-de-chine barrel-shaped jar and cover. 18th century

So Blenheim put blanc de Chine back in my mind and then last weekend I had a fun yard sale find – a vintage blanc de chine lamp, ornately covered in flowers – for all of $5. (And I got the little plant stand for $2!) It’s not my usual taste and not very valuable, but I have a vision of it with a brightly colored lamp shade on a modern side table. Are you feeling it too?

yard sale goodies blanc de chine lamp plant stand

I had this pair of antique blanc de Chine floral vases turned lamps that Courtney had featured in a post long ago in my inspiration files. They are long sold and out of budget anyway…

blanc de chine lamps via style court 2007

…but this one is currently available on 1stdibs from Prime Gallery for $1500. I’m feeling quite happy with my $5, although its going to cost more than that for sure to get it where I’m going. Hmm, I wonder if it can fit in my carry-on?

blanc de chine lamp via 1st dibs Prime Gallery $1500

If you go out and google blanc de chine or read posts elsewhere, you’ll see one lamp style example over and over again that you have not seen here, with a pierced white body and stylized plum blossom motif.

pierced Japanese lamps

They come in all shapes and sizes and some even light from the inside in addition to the bulb at the top.

pierced blanc de chine Japanese lamps etsypierced hangingpierced lampspierced lamp lit

Constantly referred to as blanc de Chine, these reticulated porcelain lamps are Japanese – not Chinese! Now that’s not to say that currently, China (and other places) aren’t turning out new ones, but originally these lamps were made in Japan, by companies like Seyei China.  To be fair, they were modeled on some of the earlier imported Chinese wares. But the piercing approximates the “cracked ice” motif I often refer to, which is commonly paired with plum blossoms to signal the ending of winter. The early versions of the lamps stem from pre-WW II days, and by the post-war period they were being bought and brought home as souvenirs by soldiers and others stationed and/or visiting Japan by the thousands. In addition, there was a thriving manufacture and trade in the Guanyin figurine style lamps, so again, many of the lamps being sold as blanc de chine are in fact blanc de japon. To see more of this original Seyei sales brochure, click here.

Seyei China old brochure blanc de chine

This brings me to a pet peeve with the vocabulary of the design blog world. Its been bothering me for ages, so I might as well get my gripe out. The term “Chinoiserie” is so constantly misused for anything even vaguely Asian and it drives me a little batty. It’s not a catch-all phrase – it has a distinct meaning. For good measure, here is the Wikipedia definition:

Chinoiserie, a French term, signifying “Chinese-esque”, refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. It is characterized by the use of fanciful imagery of an imaginary China, by asymmetry in format and whimsical contrasts of scale, and by the attempts to imitate Chinese porcelain and the use of lacquerlike materials and decoration.

I don’t even love that definition, but it will do, the key phrase being “a recurring theme in European artistic styles.” Chinese antiques are not Chinoiserie! Yet everywhere I look actual Chinese antiques get called Chinoiserie, Japanese and Japonesque stuff (which are different from each other) is mislabeled as Chinoiserie,  Japanned English furniture gets referred to as Chinoiserie – which is actually the right idea. A perfect example of modern Chinoiserie is this Elle Decor top 10 list, which is a grouping of contemporary furnishings inspired by Chinese design.

Elle Decor Top 10 chinoiserie

I think its important that as bloggers we use terms correctly, otherwise they lose their meaning as things are repeated, referenced and reposted. So arguably, real blanc de Chine is not Chinoiserie!

So now I’ve had my little rant on Chinoiserie, and I’ve written about Japonisme quite often, so it seems to me that come Doha, I’ll need to delve into Orientalism, another 19th century favorite of mine. We are at one week and counting down, on to our next adventure!

It’s a Crapshoot…Picking Paint Colors Long Distance

paint chip instagram

I’m a hard-core believer that paint colors have to be tested on the wall before selection, but unfortunately that’s not possible for our house in Doha. I’m actually ecstatic that we can paint at all as our house in Japan was covered in an off-white textured wallpaper that could not be changed. And better yet, we have just discovered that there is Benjamin Moore to be had in Qatar! So if I can give my husband the paint color names and numbers in the next day or so, he can leave the paint for the painters in each room and that is what will go up on the walls in lieu of the ugly yellowish beige they would normally paint.

I always tend to choose a cool color palette for my own projects - it’s just my instinctual nature – and my plan for the house is to have it be a seamless assortment of pale grays, with a bit of pigment in some rooms where a color is called for. Gray is by far the most difficult tone to get right and there are thousands of posts and even entire blogs devoted to the color. Since I have such limited time, I’ve constrained my search to my own tried and true colors and decorator favorites. I routinely recommend Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC 172 and more recently Balboa Mist OC-27 to others, but I never use them for myself as they are warm grays, not cool. After quite a bit of deliberation, I’m positive I don’t want cool blue tones in the living room/dining room or in the entry and hallways, so I am pushing myself to use the light and warm gray Balboa Mist. These kind of warm grays look awful to me on the chip – very beige which you know is like a four letter word to me – but lovely on the walls.

Balboa Mist OC27 BM

This is the photo that inspired the use Balboa Mist in my Chicago client’s living room…

Balboa Mist Buckingham Interiors

…and it has been a great success. The room is still in progress and quite neutral, but we are finding that it can handle any color thrown at it.

kathleen LR

And the most important decision for my new place is how the color will serve as a backdrop to my silver leaf and pine byobu and the rich color of my bamboo altar table?

my screen

Inspiration photos reveal it to be a wonderful gray with greens and medium toned woods.

Balboa Mist via Apartment Therapy

HB0611 Reid Balboa Mist

So I have convinced myself and it will be the main color in the house.  Wish me luck as this would be my largest mistake if it is wrong!

The den will get much of my existing living room furniture and rugs so it should ideally be a blue-green gray. I’m going with Nate Berkus’s favorite Pale Smoke 1584, which is very close to the now discontinued Benjamin Moore color (from three color wheels ago – I’m dating myself!) that my New York living room was historically painted.

Pale Smoke 1584 BM

It is best known for his use of it in Katie Lee Joel’s Manhattan townhouse.

Pale Smoke Nate Berkus Joel

That’s not to say that I’m not still considering going dark and dreamy in the TV room, using something like Farrow & Ball‘s Hague Blue like I wrote about here, or even F & B‘s Claydon Blue, but those kinds of decisions will have to wait until I’m there.

F & B Hague BlueF & B Claydon Blue

My bedroom has been an easy pick – Harbor Gray AC 25 – and my only struggle is that I almost want to change the living room and dining room to this purer gray. In my heart I know it’s not the right thing to do, but this is the kind of gray I like best. It nudged out Stonington Gray HC-170 by a small margin as the Stonington has a touch more blue.

Harbor Gray BMAC25

I just happened to stop by and visit our tenants in our New York City apartment yesterday where the master bedroom is still painted my (also discontinued) dream gray, a color by Sherwin Williams called Windham Gray. I dug up old photos of our bedroom there for you (you’ll recognize much of the furniture from our Tokyo place here and here) and I was able to match the paint chips to the wall. I’m feeling impressed with myself that the Harbor Gray I had chosen before going there was as close to an exact match as could be!

bedroom1 bedroom3

My elder daughter is lucky enough to be having her room entirely re-conceptualized and re-done when we get there. Blue is her unquestionable favorite color so I am going with a favorite of designers Steven Gambrel and Vincente Wolf called Iceberg 2122-50. This is the first digital chip that doesn’t do a good job of representing the color – it is much bluer and less seafoam than it looks here.

Iceberg BM 2122-50

And I am cheating here as I don’t know for sure that this Jeffrey Bilhuber bedroom is actually Iceberg, but I can’t resist using it as it has some of the ideas we are planning on, including tons of one textile and accents of black. For more of her ideas for her room, she has started a Pinterest board here.

Blue Bedroom J Billhuher pc Simon Upton

My younger daughter is getting a consolidated group of her things and her older sister’s including that divine painted armoire. For her room we are choosing a soft French green called Silver Crest 1583.

Silver crest BM1583

It has a very shimmery quality. She will also have deep raspberry as an accent color, but I couldn’t find any inspiration photos with that kind of colorway.

Silver Crest BM1583 Atlanta Homes Mag

I’m also planning on using this wonderful wedding noren, which is less blue in person, as a bed hanging on a four-poster.

wedding noren

The guest bedroom needs a twinge of a yellow-green so it will either be November Rain OC-50…

November Rain BM OC 50

November Rain via design Sponge

…or Silken Pine 2144-50. I’m worried that the November Rain is too putty and the Silken Pine to literally green.

Silken Pine BM 2144-50 Silken Pine BM 2144-50

The color needs to set off these antiques – an old Tabriz and a lacquer tansu.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 9.32.17 PM

The bed is white iron and the bedding is all white, with a bolster made from and antique velvet pelmet.

vintage milk glass fixture in guest room

And I think I am going to paint the office Gray Owl OC-52 just because I love the color and I want to see it on the wall. It’s a gray with quite a bit of green in it, which is why it wasn’t quite right for elsewhere.

Gray Owl OC-52

Joan used it in her kitchen and I love it and everything she does.

Gray Owl For the Love of a House

It’s an option if the Balboa Mist turns out to be a fail and looks beige, which is my secret fear. This room is so seductive because it reminds me of the arched entryway into our new living room.

Gray Owl Colleen Connor Grusecki

But I’m sticking with my Balboa Mist as my gut says it is the right choice. Opinions? I know you have them! I figure if I even get 50% of the rooms correct, then it is well worth it to just have it be done before the container arrives and the unpacking begins!

Image credits: All paint Benjamin Moore paint chips via Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball chips via House Beautiful, 3. Buckingham Interiors, 6.via Apartment Therapy, 7. Lindsay Reid in House Beautiful June 2011, photo credit: Amy Neunsinger, 9. Nate Berkus, photo credit: Evan Joseph, 15. Jeffrey Bilhuber in Elle Decor, photo credit: Simon Upton, 17. Beth Elsey in Atlanta Homes Magazine, photo credit: Mali Azima, 20. via Design Sponge, 22. via Decorpad, 26, via For the Love of a House, 27. via CCG Interiors. All other photos mine.

Feeling Blue…The Perfect Library

Boy, have I been feeling blue for some time. It reached its zenith today upon seeing this perfect blue library – painted Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue – over at Cote de Texas, where Joni was showing preview photos of the June House Beautiful.  I feel like owner Jeannette Whitson climbed into my brain (or at least my Pinterest board) and created my dream room. As always, be sure to click the photo for the large size view!

HB 0613 via Cote de Texas Hague Blue library

The desire for a library painted blue, somewhere between navy, Prussian and teal has been one I have been carrying a long time. Here’s a favorite – you’ve seen it before in one of my other obsessionary posts – that one on ticking.

blue library

Blue is always soothing, and there is something about being enveloped in a deeply toned room layered with books.

blue library

I think the blue highlights ordinary books, which I love, as I am really resistant to those fake staged bookshelves.

blue library

Where do people then put the books they actually read? Love the children’s books on the lower right here, just perfect for little folk to grab.

blue library

blue library

These kind of blues have a glowing brightness even though they are dark colors.

blue library

In particular, blue mixed with its complimentary orange is stunning. Whether it be wood tones and velvet…

blue library

blue library

blue library

…or leather with a touch of animal print.

blue library

blue library

And here it is one more time from the cover view. The matched velvet and the Michael Smith fabric on the ceiling are just divine!

HB 0613 blue library

I’m blue over a lot more than just libraries these days. Leaving the land of blue – the land of indigo – after nine years is going to be very very hard. Even if I manage to get a blue library out of the change…

All photo credits and links, along with more inspiration photos, can be found over at my Blue Libraries Pinterest board. Thanks Joni and thanks to Ally at FTRB, who has a blue and orange room obsession too.

« Older Entries

Tokyo Jinja

Back to top