Furniture

Expat Decorating…An Updated Master Bedroom

Doha master bedroom

So I want to relieve you of the suspense I left you in as of my last post and show you the current chapter in the story of my striped curtains. They have never looked better and ironically seem to have been custom designed for their new home framing the little charming arched windows that made me want this house in the first place. The rest of the bedroom has been updated too and I want to talk a little bit about that process, especially in response to all the inquiries I have been having lately about how to think about changing or modernizing a space when you have limited resources and no ideas on how to start. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the items in our bedroom, but here in Doha (and to a certain extent in Tokyo) they had started to feel too ‘Paris flea market’ if such a thing is possible. Almost all the furniture is 19th century antique French – even my winter duvet is made from antique document print curtain panels sourced at les puces. The tiny French night stands shown below in our Tokyo bedroom were purchased originally for a New York bedroom so small that there was barely 18 inches on the side of the bed and both they and the sweet lamps were completely insubstantial in our new cavernous Doha bedroom.

French night stand trimmed lamp striped curtains

By choice and by the default based on availability I talked about last time, the rest of the house had brightened with a more modern eclectic mix and the bedroom needed to join in that party. For years in Tokyo I had been dreaming of getting my gray painted walls again but now, with the gray tiled floor, everything felt too gray and too subtle. The room was screaming for some color punctuation, although I did not want to lose its overall soothing vibe. So the starting point was to think about what might be easy to change like textiles, bedding and accessories, using a Pinterest board and inspiration photos as a way to narrow down choices and test combinations.

My main inspiration came from two very different bedrooms, by two very different style designers. The first one, by Bunny Williams is in a formal Park Avenue apartment, full of gorgeous storied antiques.  The mirrored bed is a 1930s piece by French designer/artist Serge Roche. The headboard is upholstered in a spectacular Indian-inspired silk embroidery by Naeem Khan.  You can see more of this space in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Social Diary.

Bunny Williams NYC bedroom via WSJ mirrored bed

Vignettes of collected objects and art, as well as simple white ruffled linens against a soft color palette speak to the antiquarian in me. Much of the furniture is from a similar place and time as mine.

Bunny Williams bed embroidery detail dresser 2 views

The other bedroom is in a 1940s home in Charleston, designed by Angie Hranowsky and featured in Lonny Magazine. It is often referred to in blog posts on ‘boho glam’ or some other silly name as it unexpectedly combines casual elements such as a rattan headboard with a more glamorous material like the mirrored nightstands.

Angie Hranowsky lavender bedroom yellow lamps mirrored night stands boho

The lavender is of course my long standing favorite, but the unexpected surprise of the yellow is what really captured my attention, along with the incredible textile mix against simple white sheets.

angie-hranowsky-bedroom-lavender-yellow-mirrored night stands boho two views

So what binds these two very different spaces together? You might say nothing, but for me, they are filtered through the lens of what I have to work with plus the feeling I want to create. The Bunny Williams bedroom has a softened pretty formality that I can’t escape with the majority of the furniture I already own. The Angie Hranowsky bedroom has relaxed vibe I’d like to add, along with a color palette I adore. The actual binding between them is in the mirrored pieces (bed and night stands) and the handmade textiles – the Indian embroidery above Williams’ bed and the tapestry, bolster pillow and block printed John Robshaw quilt in the Hranowsky bedroom. I knew an embroidered ethnic textile – I was thinking suzani or something similar originally – would soften the formality of the furniture and bring in the color and visual interest I was looking for. But from a practical point of view, my husband and I are duvet sleepers and nothing will change that. I didn’t want a fussy extra coverlet that served no purpose other than display. As luck would have it, a ready-made savior came in the form of the Safia Embroidered Duvet Cover from Anthropologie. It is so perfect, it’s as if I conjured it, with its Indian applique and embroidery and exact color palette.

safia embroidered duvet crane canopy gray scallop sheets It didn’t hurt either that it coupled perfectly with the new Gray Scalloped Embroidered Sheets Set from Crane & Canopy and my other vintage white bed linens.

safia embroidered duvet cover crane canopy gray scallop sheeets master bedroom

Another key component of all the inspiration spaces I was using was mirror – for two main reasons. The original impetus was to add another material, another finish, to all the wood furniture. Part of what kept the room trapped in the past was that lack of variety, and even though the bed frame is painted, everything else is medium to dark wood tone. A mirrored surface provides much needed contrast while also being dressy enough to hold its own with the French antiques. But the second reason – the expat reason of its possible availability – is what truly made it compelling. As I’ve mentioned before, the local population here likes very glitzy interiors so I knew that somewhere out there something along the lines of what I was looking for existed. While my fantasy tables were of the vintage 1940s variety like these on the left from 1stdibs, settling for these brand new ones from the main mass market furniture store here in Doha didn’t feel like such a terrible compromise. The fact that they were also a fraction of the price didn’t hurt and honestly, their modernity, their newness, provides even more needed contrast with the rest of the room.

French 1940's Mirrored Night Stands home center new Other inspiration photos included one detail again and again – simple yellow ceramic gourd or vase-shaped lamps like the ones in the Angie Hranowsky bedroom, here in two stand-out rooms by Miles Redd and Bailey McCarthy. Most are Christopher Spitzmiller, which once again is not available here (although those of you in New York right now can go to the last day of his Summer Seconds Sale today!!!!) nor are there many similar options. This was a situation in which local sourcing just wasn’t going to happen. On a trip to Hong Kong last November I hunted for a pair of Imperial yellow porcelain vases to convert to lamps, but had no luck either.

Miles Redd bedroom Bailey McCarthy Spitzmiller yellow lamp mirror night stand

That left the internet, which is sometimes the only option when you know you want something very specific. I was obsessed with the gorgeous pair of yellow lamps on the left from Palm Beach Antiques Center, but no matter how I tried to spin it, they were way too large and a bit too orange. I’m still in love with their shape and luster and they are still available along with numerous other beauties. In the end, One Kings Lane delivered with this pair of more vase-shaped lamps with a Chinese mount. They were a bargain – especially if you compare similar pieces on 1st dibs (subtract an entire digit from those prices). And for another expat homily, sometimes the price of doing business and living your life is costly shipping. Luckily, I had finally joined Aramax, an international shipping service that delivers here pretty reliably and at fairly reasonable cost. Since the lamps were a bargain, paying their price over again in shipping was worth it. All in, they still cost less than many other choices.

yellow lamp pair palm beach antiques and one kings lane

The combination is bringing me great visual pleasure and the functionality of the taller, more substantial lamps and the extra drawer space the night stands provide can’t be beat.

Doha Master Bedroom uodated yellow imperial vase lamp mirror night stand

The room is not finished, but has certainly made strides in the right direction. Finding a floor covering is high on my list as getting out of bed to those acres of cold tiles isn’t very nice. In typical expat style I brought a giant empty suitcase with me on a quick trip back to the US a few weeks ago and stuffed it with a giant wool flokati rug. It never made it up to the bedroom, getting hijacked by the living room along the way, where there were also acres of cold tiles. I’d love to add a chaise or other comfy chair to the corner next to the settee, where some old world crystal sconces have been hung on either side of a trio of painterly lithographs by Japanese printmaker Keisuke Yamamoto. What an interesting coincidence that these prints are all about the arches and now they are hanging in a bedroom that is kinda all about the arches too. I happened to stumble across these yellow pillows in the housewares isle of our local supermarket (!) so I grabbed them, knowing they wouldn’t be there if I hesitated. Playing around with other pillow choices on the Pinterest board.

master bedroom settee Keisuke Yamamoto

Along those lines of mixing old and new, I’d like to find a great piece of abstract art to hang over the bed, a little like this combo in a room designed by Amanda Nisbet. Although I’m laughing a bit, as the night table lamps remind me so much of my old ones – they could use a little beefing up I think.

Amanda Nisbet french bed lavender modern art

Those little lamps have been relocated to atop the dresser, in similar style to the Bunny Williams bedroom. I’m still working on the gallery wall here, grouping antique sketches and etchings.

master bedroom dresser

Miles to go before I sleep…well no, not really. Actually, the house is in substantial shape as I ready myself to leave in two days for the next ten weeks of summer, where I’ll be turning my attention to our beloved beach cottage. See you there!

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Expat Decorating…Getting Lucky and Making Do

Expat Decorating…Getting Lucky and Making Do

While life as an expat in far away lands does bring some decorating joys, i.e. exotic accessories, much of the time basic goods, such as upholstered pieces and quality furniture for reasonable prices, are just not on the agenda. Invariably there are technical difficulties with the technical stuff, voltage variances and possibly language barriers for sourcing parts and hardware, let alone explaining the details of tufted buttons on a headboard. Designing interiors as an expat is much like being on a budget, without the great vintage shopping, thrift stores and Target that are such key resources in America. The best and most reliable places for shopping are often other folks houses - all expats know the best way to get stuff is to hone in on anyone moving back home the moment they announce it. Opportunities need to be grabbed as they tend to be one of a kind and won’t come around again. And the suitcases of all visitors and guests should always be maximized to one’s benefit. My mantra over the years has always been “get lucky and make do” because it has to be, and while it has definitely brought out my creativity, I occasionally wish I had a few other options on the table.

You’ve already heard some of my best stories  - certainly nothing will beat the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat that was the free chairs and desk. The colorful scheme of Mally Skok and Raoul Textiles for the kitchen was born out of necessity from the inability to make any changes in our rental. And while I really did want the Saarinen Tulip table for the dining room, it emerged as the absolute front-runner of the three possible schemes simply because it could be had – although perhaps shipping from Malaysia isn’t exactly just had! The IKEA Tobias chairs around it are a classic case of making do with a very happy ending and my living room has a DIY coffee table coming. In the course of this year I’ve had to be resourceful, I’ve had to compromise but the stars have aligned for me at times too.

doha living room

One of my earliest stories here in Doha is a typical tale of triumph against newcomer odds. Long boxed up in storage in Japan, waiting for its imaginary future, this massive pierced brass karakusa (scrolling arabesque) globe chandelier was one of my favorite shrine sale finds ever.

antique brass karakusa globe fixture Japan

Of course in Japan I couldn’t hang it, the ceilings being so low that even basically flush mounted it would have hit the top of my sweet husband’s head (and he is about 6 feet tall). With the high ceilings here in Doha it was time for it to emerge and be hung. Enter said expat challenge, better known as chandelier chain. In America, you can walk into any hardware store and there are rolls of chain in different sizes and finishes. Of course here in Doha there is a single strip of lighting stores, which happens to be tucked behind the largest and most complicated building project in the city, making it almost impossible to get to even after you find it (if you find it!). But in my first weeks here, I managed to get there before closing time (all small businesses close between roughly 12:30 and 4:00pm every day – add that to the planning mix), double parked bravely and illegally (no other way to do it) and ran in. The first shop had only bright brass chain in a single size. As did the second, the third and so on. It seems there is only one size and one color finish of shiny brass chandelier chain to be had here in this country and it simply wouldn’t do for my antique fixture. What I did notice was that one small shop had a display chandelier hanging from old chain that was nicely patinated in that dark brass/bronze color even though there was none of it for sale. So I put on my best negotiating skills (all of this at 12:15 while double parked illegally) and managed to convince the owner to let me buy him a length of shiny new chain from another shop to exchange with him (and a little bonus) for his length of old chain. I think he thought I was absolutely nuts, but so be it, mission accomplished! Now it hangs in all its loveliness, casting mysterious shadows at night, and even my 6’7″ friend has no fears of hitting his head on it.

photo

Another favorite story has the longest expat legs of all. When we lived in Hong Kong from 1997-1998, I had a pair of gray and white silk curtains made – much like a ticking stripe – to hang in my chartreuse dining room. (As an aside, best dining room color ever – with gorgeous old Indonesian rosewood floors, Chinese table, painted Tibetan chest and lots of blue & white porcelain!) Upon moving back to New York City, I repurposed them in my gray bedroom, which had only one window so a single set was very useful. As the window was awkwardly placed near the ceiling, I needed to make a valance, so I asked a friend back in Hong Kong to go buy a bit more of the same silk and send it to me. This was all within the first year of leaving so it was easily done. Dug up some old snapshots (!) to give a sense of the curtains in both spaces.

HK and NY striped curtains bedroom

Fast forward five and half years and off we go to Tokyo where our bedroom had three large windows. Better yet, they were all different sizes – not width wise, but height wise – and the ceiling heights were different in each part of the room. I know it is impossible to imagine or even believe that the Japanese would build this way, but I tell you it’s true – it looked like they sourced the windows willy nilly from a sale. I wanted to use the curtains again because I loved them and nothing beats a classic stripe – it just can’t be improved upon. So I tracked down the shop with the silk (I always keep my samples/orders/receipts from every project in neat little Ziploc bags) and they actually still had some. I bought the rest of their final roll as obviously the decorating gods meant me to and had it delivered to my original curtain lady (she of the obi quilt block pillows). Soon after, I visited some friends in Hong Kong and brought the original pair of curtain panels with me. I had her copy the originals – and here is the kicker – make them all the same original long length. Then I had her hem each set to the random length of the windows in my Tokyo bedroom. One set was hemmed about 2 or 3 feet even. But my instincts told me that there was no purpose to having a bunch of odd size and short curtains in the long run.

bedroom settee with obi quilt pillow

So now for the moment of triumph. We arrive here in Doha, shake the curtains out from their box and hang them on the existing curtain tracks. They are all way too short, some as much as two feet plus!

bedroom curtains too short

I carefully pick out the secondary hem stitches and (drum roll please) they are exactly, yes exactly, the right length. Cosmic decorating karma. A steamer takes out any creases effortlessly. To top it all off, I wanted deep valances, filling the space between the arch of the windows and the ceilings and had just enough fabric from that final roll to make them. I think I will leave you in suspense until my very next post for you to see how it all turned out…

One last story about the kindness of friends and strangers in an expat decorating world. After much deliberation I decided I needed that Pier One/Craig’s List staple the Papasan Chair for my teenage daughter’s room. How can you keep the “no boys sitting on the bed” rule when there isn’t anywhere else to sit? Add in that the room was veering in the slightly too formal direction and that a request for somewhere to “sack out” had been made. Her new desk (our giant antique French partners desk moved from the study) created a perfect deep corner that needed to be filled by something round. I searched the internet for proof that a Papasan could look chic – even Apartment Therapy seemed to be giving them credence – and came up with a few examples, including this one in a similarly colored room. With all things wicker and rattan being back “in” can the Papasan be far behind? Well maybe not, but its just the perfect thing for a teen!

papasan chair via little bird told me

All that said, what would be one of the easiest and most budget friendly options to get ahold of in the USA doesn’t exist here in Doha. And the oversized scale of them makes it prohibitively expensive to ship. So I mentioned to a few friends that I was looking for one or something similar. Within a week, my friend LL (come to think of it – she of the lost desk and chairs!) brings me to the house of another woman in her compound, leaving to move back to Canada. LL had been in her house casing the goods when she noticed a Papasan in the living room, that was not for sale. In classic style, she convinced the woman to sell it to me and just buy a new one when she gets home. Such an expat moment! This is the best I could get my model to give, but you can see it is already being well used. And the cranberry colored cushion has just been sent out to be recovered in white cotton duck.

photo

Now much of my experience is only true in the places I have lived, namely Asia and the Middle East. Those lucky enough to live in Europe with its hundreds of years of furniture making its way to market might have a different story to tell. And there will be more on this topic in my next post, as I explore the challenge of updating a bedroom straight out of the Paris flea markets. But in the meantime, what have been your biggest challenges finding and creating your home, wherever you may live?

 

The 10th Ultimate IKEA Bargain

photo33

Apartment Therapy just ran a piece on their 9 Ultimate Cheap Chic Classics from IKEA and I decided I needed to chime in on my own 10th item. I don’t disagree with the items they are listing. After all, I have mentioned their number 1 item, the Stockholm Rand rug extensively before, I have used their #2 item, the Billy Bookcase in pretty much every space I have lived in and I am currently using a pair of their number 7 item, the Malm Dresser in my elder daughter’s bedroom. But I think the best bargain at IKEA these days – and one that is nowhere near as over exposed as the other nine – is the Tobias chair shown in our dining room above. Lately, I have noticed it popping up in some higher end places, so I think there are those out there who are agreeing with me.

At 79 dollars (or 265 Qatari Riyals), the price is excellent. In Japan, the chair is just over 15,000 Yen, so it’s about twice as expensive, but everything imported has about that same mark-up. I had never really given the Tobias any thought or attention until I moved to Doha, where IKEA plays an even bigger role in basic necessities than it did in Japan, and certainly than it ever did in the USA. I don’t think there is a single piece of IKEA anything at our beach house. When looking for chairs here to go with our Saarinen Tulip Table and Louis XV style chairs, they seemed like the perfect inexpensive placeholders until we found what we “really” wanted. Ironically, they have become a favorite item, being incredibly comfortable, easy to care for and slide effortlessly across the newly installed Madeline Weinrib dhurrie.

photo1

The flatweave/tulip table/Tobias chair combo is not a particularly new one, but it just works.

madeline-weinrib-rug-gray-walls-tobias-chair-tulip-table-via-elements-of-style

What has caught my eye lately is the places it has been popping up. I noticed them in the May issue of Elle Decor, in Ellen Rakieten’s Anne Coyle designed LA apartment. About as different as can be from her Chicago library – one of those all time favorite rooms of mine.

edc05011-ellen-rakieten-anne-coyle-tobias-chair-ikea-la

The larger room deserves a peek too, as it is making me continue to mourn the loss of the French chairs and desk I had scored.

edc05011-ellen-rakieten-anne-coyle-tobias-chair-ikea-desk

Caught the smoky gray version of the Tobias in the portfolio of Michelle R. Smith when I was writing about her last week. There are also numerous other example all over the internet of it paired with farmhouse tables showing how it plays well and mixes well.

screen-shot-2014-05-06-at-8-44-26-am

And they have recently launched a lilac version so I’ll be curious to see what folks do with that one. Girls room desk chair anyone?

tobias-chair

What’s your favorite IKEA bargain?

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Dining Room Option Two…Inspiration from Angie Hranowsky
He Giveth…And He Taketh Away

Image credits: 1-2, me, 3. Elements of Style, 4-5. Elle Decor May 2014, photo credit: William Abranowicz, 6. Michelle R. Smith, 6. IKEA.

Artist Spotlight…Inlay and the Orientalist Painters

Lawrence Alma-Tadema? The Drawing Room, Holland Park 1887

Lawrence Alma-Tadema? The Drawing Room, Holland Park 1887, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum (Bournemouth)

The Alma-Tadema painting from my last post is just one of many late 19th century works that feature an item of inlaid furniture. In that case, an inlaid Syrian chest figures prominently in a British home elaborately decorated in the style of the ‘the East’. Such furniture was also found in 19th century European paintings from a movement called Orientalism, which idealized views and scenes of the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Wildly popular at the time of their creation, these paintings fell out of favor, much like the Pre-Raphaelites, only to be re-appreciated at the end of the 20th century. Along the way they have stirred up much controversy about the patronizing nature of Orientalist views, but I am going to leave the politics aside and just share the decorative aspect of the paintings.

John Frederick Lewis’ Intercepted Correspondence from 1869 was a painting I looked at and perhaps should have included in my post on Iznik ceramics and the language of flowers. In it, a young woman is caught before her master with a bouquet from her lover. Much can be said about this work, but it is the elaborate mashrabiya, the dowel latticework covering the window openings and the small inlaid table on the bottom right side that catches my eye today. Over and over again, the key props in the work of the Orientalists are these types of screens, Iznik tiles, elaborate carpets and textiles, pipes, musical instruments and of course, inlaid furniture. In all of the paintings below, each one has the ubiquitous inlaid side table somewhere – be sure to spot them.

The 19th century painters aren’t the only ones to have a fascination with the east, for example 18th century Swiss-French painter Jean-Étienne Liotard visited Istanbul and painted numerous scenes like the one below, a formal precursor to these later works.

monsieur-levett-and-mademoiselle-helene-glavany-in-turkish-costumes-jean-etienne-liotard

But the advent of easier travel and discovery created an insatiable desire for the exotic and painters were happy to comply. Lewis spent ten years living in Cairo, which gives his work a very authentic feel.

'Interior of a School, Cairo', by John Frederick Lewis, watercolour. Museum no.68-1890, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Arthur Melville, a Scottish painter, also traveled in Persia, Egypt and Turkey from 1880–82.

Arthur Melville, An Arab Interior, 1881, courtesy National Galleries of Scotland.

Austro-French painter Rudolf Ernst traveled to the Middle East in 1885. I am particularly intrigued by the bench in this painting as it is so reminiscent of the ones I recently purchased here. To see Ernst reusing his inlaid props over and over again, click here.

Rudolf Ernst

In 1858 English painter Frederick Goodall spent eight months in Egypt, and he returned in 1870. He continued with Orientalist themes throughout his very successful career.

Copt Mother and Child', by Frederick Goodall, 1875, watercolour. Museum no. 517-1882, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of the most common scenes painted was the interior of the harem and Lewis wasn’t the only one to paint it. These are clearly a fantasy view of the harem as the male painters would never have actually been able to enter the female spaces.

Frederick_Goodall_-_A_New_Light_in_the_Harem 1884

French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme visited Egypt for the first time in 1856. He too became fascinated with orientalist themes.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Pool in a Harem c. 1876

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Pool in a Harem c. 1876

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Orientalists and I only included paintings with inlaid furniture in them for the sake of brevity and cohesion. I’m sure I’ll be returning to the subject sometime in the not so distant future.

If these richly adorned spaces have caught your eye, you must take a look at Bill Willis’s work in the 1960s and 70s for Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge amongst others in Marrakech. There is a great piece in the The Wall Street Journal really worth perusing and exploring for anyone interested in design related to the Middle East and North Africa. The late Alberto Pinto has some amazing rooms (including this lavender one I am always going on about) in his portfolio and his hard to find book Orientalism. More recent fantasies include Veronica Webb’s Key West home in Architectural Digest and Howard Slatkin’s extraordinary Orientalist library in New York City.

And as for the actual painter of the Alma-Tadema painting at the very top of the post? I was utterly sure I was on to something and that his daughter Anna had painted it, so I dug deep and came up with this great post. It always feels good to be right! I also think I need to get the book she mentions, Artistic Circles: Design and Decoration in the Aesthetic Movement.

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Then and Now…Howard Slatkin’s Fifth Avenue Style
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Inlay Then and Now…Syrian Dowry Chests

In addition to checking out housing and schooling, I was busy checking out the antiquing here in Doha on my ‘look-see’ (expat speak for a pre-move approval visit) last spring. I trolled the alleys of Souq Waqif, the central marketplace selling everything from delicious Iranian bread to stacks of cushions to tie-dyed baby chicks but not much in the way of antiques (or so it seemed at this first perusal). I turned a corner and under a colonnaded walkway stood this inlaid chest on triangular legs. These Syrian wedding trunks or sunduqs are highly decorated with mother-of-pearl inset between fine tin wires and sometimes additionally ornamented with brass or bone. They are one of the more common shapes found among antique inlaid furniture and you can see, while their ‘official’ use is as part of a bridal trousseau, they can obviously be useful to store just about anything.

Credited to Dutch born, but lifelong English resident painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema, this 1887 watercolor of his Drawing Room at Holland Park is a painting I have long had in my inspiration files. Alma-Tadema was famous for his hyper realistic oil paintings of Ancient Rome, Egypt and other Orientalist subjects – he was called the ‘marbelous’ painter for the perfection of his technique in depicting said stone. His own home in Regent’s Park was decorated in the high Aesthetic taste, an amalgam of styles and objects referencing Ancient Greek, Pompei, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires as well as Asian countries such as Japan. This still life of the drawing room is a quintessential example of the artistic taste of the period, with its exotic objets, portiere and Pre-Raphaelite portrait, and its main highlight – the inlaid Syrian dowry chest. [As an aside, I think this was actually painted by his daughter Anna, as she painted the other watercolor interiors of their home and this is not at all in the style of his oils. Take a look here and here at works credited to her and here for a large catalog of Alma-Tadema's classical paintings. Let me know if you agree with me.]

Lawrence Alma-Tadema? The Drawing Room, Holland Park 1887

What I love about the next image is how it shows on one hand, how much has changed in interior design, while on the other, how little actually has. While the overall look and palette may have simplified, the main players are the same in this bedroom designed by Windsor Smith for Veranda‘s Greystone Estate showhouse. The portrait above the sunduq is now an antiqued mirror – still in a luscious gilded frame. Exotic Asian objects line the top of the chest, in this case Buddhas, and the luxurious bed hangings stand in for the portiere.

In an even more paired down interior by Gerri Wiley in Traditional Home, the mother of pearl inlay sets a luminescent theme that is echoed in the chandelier, painting and soft silvery grays. I’m sure my Japanese glass fishing float junkies will notice the one bit of accent color.

inlaid trunk via veranda house

Los Angeles based designer Anna Hackathorn uses one to add texture to a grouping in a very California bohemian great room. I think the raised legs of these pieces are what make them so useful and easy to work with.

Anna Hackathorn inlaid dowry chest

Back on my home front, an artist friend here in Doha has created a modern still life with a Syrian dowry chest and her own work hung on a vintage wine bottle drying rack.

Inlaid syrian dowry chest

If you like the Alma-Tadema painting, be sure to watch for my next post featuring the 19th century Orientalist painters. They used inlay pieces as props all the time.

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