Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Art Deco Style at Auction

I've mentioned that my style is evolving and I am much more attracted to Deco and mid-century than I ever was before. I don't want to live in the Hollywood deco of the 30s, but I would like to add a few pieces to my modern house that we're building.

Architectural Digest March 2010

When I look at a picture like this I am particularly drawn to the club chair and the table next to the chaise. The Hollywood version of Deco includes lots of mirrored furniture, and here is a modern version that recalls the height of the era.

Architectural Digest February 2010 - Designer: Craig White

But modern deco inspired spaces need not be quite so Hollywood. The French Art Deco was elegant and focused on clean lines and beautiful detailing. Think Jules Leleu and Louis Majorelle.

Architectural Digest October 2006 - Designers: Shelton Mindel

This space reminds me of the clean lines of Deco where the details matter more than anything. It's clean, but not too spare to lack interest. 

One more modern deco before moving on to auctions!

House Beautiful - Designer: Marshall Watson

The room is accented with the dark door trim and the dark wood on the comfortable club chairs. The lines are clean and modern. 

Doyle NY has a very interesting auction coming up April 20th - Doyle + Design. It has lots of deco style furniture that got me very excited when I looked at the on-line catalogue. 

Both of these sets of chairs scream deco. I love the lines and the mixing of the brown and black wood and leather. The set on the left is just described as a pair of French 20th century club chairs (Lot 89) with an estimate of $3,000 - $5,000. The pair on the left above are described as Art Deco Style Tub Chairs (Lot 117) with an estimate at the opposite end of the spectrum of $300 - $500! Must need to be seen to check the condition and quality. 

For a wackier version that would certainly prompt conversation try these.

These are also called Art Deco style (Lot 110), and are estimated at $1,500 - $2,000.

Finally a couple of tables caught my eye.

Both of these tables are very elegant, with clean lines. The Occasional Table above left (Lot 156) is French 20th century and is made of rosewood, mirror and metal. It is estimated at $400 - $600. The Art Deco Style 'library table' (Lot 87) is French 20th century and is made of rosewood. I love the curves and overall balance of the table. It is estimated at $1,500 - $2,000. 

I can easily see adding any of these pieces to a home to give it a modern style update!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Relaxed Chic: Painted furniture

I have always loved the welcoming and relaxed look of painted furniture. French and Swedish design often features painted furniture, and it makes for a light and airy feeling.

Both from Art et Decoration, France

I have plenty of brown furniture, but the painted look brings something very different to a room as a single piece, or as an overall decorating plan. 

House Beautiful

Auction decorating lends itself well to this aesthetic. That wonderful distressed piece of furniture need not be given a restoration work over, but will look best if left exactly as it is. 

Some of the upcoming auctions have good examples. 

Stair Galleries Auction March 27, Hudson NY

The upcoming Stair auction of a Hudson Valley estate has some wonderful antique examples of painted furniture that I wouldn't want to do one thing to 'fix'. The green painted cupboard on the left above (Lot 383) is estimated at $600 - $800. The New England red painted cupboard (Lot 475) on the right above is estimated at $700 - $1,000.

This lovely table is from the Clarke Auction scheduled for March 27th in Larchmont, NY. 

Clarke Auction March 27th, Larchmont, NY

This table (Lot 171) is described as a Louis XVI carved marble top center table and is estimated at $1,000 - $1,500. There are other examples in the auction as well. 

New Orleans Auction March 27 - 28

What better place to find French inspired antiques in the US than in New Orleans. New Orleans Auction coming up March 27 and 28 has this settee (Lot 441) described as Continental Neoclassical and is estimated at $1,800 - $2,500. 

Elle Decor

These photos are both from the interior designer Paula Caravelli's New York apartment featured recently in Elle Decor which was titled 'A New York City Home with a Paris Accent'. I can see the settee from New Orleans auctions fitting in well to the living room in the photo on the above left. I could also see the red painted cupboard from Stair above being a more distressed version of the one in the photo above right. 

All these auction houses mentioned with auction March 27th and/or 28th take absentee bids so take a look at their on-line catalogues for some tempting ideas.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Design Inspirations

This weekend we went to the Doyle Asian Works of Art preview, and the Architectural Digest Home Design show at Pier 94. Both provided interesting inspiration, each quite different.

I have always liked Asian design for it's simplicity and sometimes even serenity. Josie Natori's apartment is an example of what is almost a Zen like design, but with comfort.

Elle Decor

The use of an Asian screen as the focal point and simple furniture like the coffee table give this room a calm comfort. 

The Doyle preview had some wonderful Asian pieces, most out of our price range. 

Doyle Asian Works of Art Auction March 22

The buddha head against the wood screen caught my eye, and would move easily into our new house (if I had the budget). We have a buddha that we bought in Thailand many years that gives me great peace to look at. We took very few things with us besides clothes when we moved to London, but buddha had to join us as well. 

Chinese furniture, like the piece in the photo on the left above, has such clean lines with the patina of the wood, the simple lines, and brass fixtures making the statement. This would fit in any style interior (except maybe Louis XIV!), and has the size to be a major decorative focus in the room. 

The Architectural Digest Home Design Show was entirely different, but fun in it's own way. Since we are building a house we are always quite interested in all the kitchen appliances, outdoor furniture, lighting, and room designs. 

There were many wood furniture makers, and we were intrigued by having the elusive coffee table for our new house made to order. We didn't find anyone that quite convinced us.

The light fixtures in this booth were really cool, and all made of hand blown glass. We are quite keen to have distinctive ceiling lights in our new house, and are always looking at interesting designs so that we'll know the right one when we see it. 

It's fun to go to shows for inspiration even with no intention to buy. It's all part of refining your style and knowing the right price for the perfect object when you see it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Upcoming Auctions - April

April (and end of March) sees some promising auctions coming up. My list is not exhaustive, but includes auctions houses that I personally know, or those that have been recommended. The focus is always on decorating, and opportunities to buy something special for your home.

  • Los Angeles: Fine European Furniture and Decorative Arts. Auction March 29th. Previews March 26 - 29 March. Here is a link to the catalogue.
Christie's New York
  • Interiors sales. Auction April 6 and 7. Previews April 2 - 7. Here is the catalogue link.  This sale seems to be a monthly event and so far in my experience there is a good collection of decorative furniture and art work. In keeping with the deco theme this week, here is an example from the sale.

Christie's Interiors sale - Art Deco Center Table. Est. $1,500 - $2,000
  • 500 Years Decorative Arts Europe. Auction April 20. Preview April 16 - 19. Here is the catalogue link.
Clarke Auction, Larchmont, NY
  • Antiques and Decorative Arts. Auction March 28. Preview March 26 - 28. Here is a link to the catalogue. This auction house intrigues me. They seem to have interesting items at good prices for decorating. This metal table could work inside or out, and seems to be a bargain. I would probably put a glass or marble top on it.

Clarke Auctions: Gilt metal table with rosewood top (not shown) Est. $200 - $300

Doyle New York
  • Doyle + Design sale - April 20. Preview April 17 - 19. This auction looks like lots of fun. It will be featuring modern and contemporary furniture, art and design. The on-line preview has some very interesting pieces. Here is a link to Doyle.
Doyle NY - Console table Est. $1,000 - $1,500

New Orleans Auction
  • General auction. March 27 - 28, and here is the link to the catalogue. This is full of good traditional antique furniture and decoration. They give condition reports. They do seem to have a fairly large selection of French antiques, as you would expect.  I thought this table looked interesting and would fit in any number of places.

New Orleans Auction: Late 19th C. French Provincial Oak Table Est. $800 - $1,200

Sotheby's NY
  • Fine European Furniture and Decoration. Auction April 1. Preview March 27 - 31. Here is a link to their April calendar for New York.  This is a pretty high end auction which is usually the case when they use the word 'fine' in the title. I thought these birdcages are something everyone should have!
Sotheby's: Metal birdcages (88" tall) Est. $6,000 - $9,000
  • Celebration of the English Country House. Auction April 15. Preview April 8 - 14. Just in time to spend your tax refund!
  • 19th C. Furniture and Decoration. Auction April 22. Preview April 17 - 21.
Stair Galleries, Hudson, NY
  • A Hudson Valley Collection. Auction March 27. Preview March 20,  21, 22, 26, and 27. This looks like a great estate collection of traditional American furniture, paintings and decoration. If you have a traditional home this would be an interesting sale for you. Here is their we site link. I liked this painted cupboard for that country look.
 Stair Galleries: Hudson Valley Painted Cupboard Est. $1,000 - $1,500
  • Exposition Auction, April 9. Preview April 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. These are always interesting and most is without reserve. 
Note on Tepper Auctions. This auction house was recommended to me by several people for good bargain estate auctions. Their web site says that they are undergoing reorganization and no auctions are scheduled. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coffee tables should be fun!

I've been thinking a lot about coffee tables lately. A bit obsessive perhaps, but I have always thought that a coffee table should be an important focal point in a living or family room. We're building a modern house, and I'm on the look out for a coffee table that will make a statement.

Coffee tables are a furniture staple, and serve a required function for holding drinks and food, and assorted magazines and art books. No living or family room would be without one. But I think they are often boring. They are usually purely functional and often rather cookie cutter in design. What a wonderful opportunity to have fun with a central piece of furniture.

House Beautiful

I like this comfortable looking living room but it would be enhanced with a cool coffee table. This one is functional, but just not interesting

I love this example from the Christie's April Interiors sale.

Christie's Interiors - Bronze Figural Low Table. Est. $4,000 - $6,000

This table is a deco inspired reproduction and would be a great talking piece in a living or family room. 

Barbara Barry used a 1950's coffee table that is more interesting than the usual Noguchi style one sees frequently in modern rooms.

Metropolitan Home

This modern classic has just enough interest to make it stand out from the usual ones you see in the Room and Board catalogue (which I like by the way). 

We loved this table from the recent Sotheby's 20th Century Design sale. 

Sotheby's - Paul Evans Coffee Table

This sold for just over $9,000, and was beyond our price range. It's a fabulous modern table and would be a great center piece.

The style need not be too elaborate to add interest, but just different than everything you see in furniture catalogues or even most magazines. 

Metropolitan Home

This coffee table has lovely curved legs which add some interest to the classic glass topped table. 

I will be quite focused at upcoming auctions on cool coffee tables. Until I find one, we'll get a 'place holder' table at auction or new, whichever makes the most cost sense. The right table will be a long term 'investment' in design fun!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Auction Inspirations

There are many different levels of auctions - country auctions, high and low estate sales, 'decorative' sales, and then higher art and decoration auctions. The Sotheby's 20th Century Design sale (today) is at the higher end, and contains many name designers from Louis Majorelle to Gio Ponto to George Nakashima. We go to this type of preview for inspiration, and to pine after a few pieces that would be a major investment for us.

Sotheby's 20 Century Design Auction March 16th

This grouping of Jacques Adnet circa 1950 pieces would set the stage for a wonderful mid- century modern living room.

It's much the same as looking at home magazines. I look for inspiration, but rarely have a desire to duplicate a look entirely. I love the way this day bed in Candace Bushnell's apartment makes this room.

Elle Decor: Candace Bushnell Home

 Sotheby's 20th Century Design - Paul Frankl (1928) 'Skyscraper' Day Bed

I was taken by this day bed. It looks so Hollywood to me, and very modern. I love that the designer dubbed it the 'skyscraper'. I could easily see it in pride of place in a living room, and probably re-upholstered in a fabulous fabric of the period. However, I doubt I would want an entire room in matching style. A focal point would be enough (and if I had the $20 - 30k that it was estimated for!).

For an overall Art Deco look this Tuxedo Park estate had it all. 

Elle Decor Art Deco Style Living Room

The decor in this living room is both comfortable yet full of Art Deco pieces that catch the eye. The ceiling fixtures are especially interesting.

Sotheby's 20th Century Design Sale

This grouping is mostly designed by Andre Sornay (ca. 1950), and I liked the chairs in particular. They probably fit in the category of chairs to look at rather than sit in, but very decorative nonetheless.

I am more and more taken with 20th Century design (the whole century!), and have my eye out for that one piece that will make a statement (an that we can afford!).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Buying paintings: Condition, condition, condition.

If there is one type of thing we buy at auction more often it's paintings. We have also bought at galleries, but we're convinced the value (price for quality) is much better at auction.

A challenge we face when buying is that we're not experts at determining condition. We buy what we like and we pay a price that we're comfortable with. We rely on the auction house to tell us about the condition and make our decision from there. I recently bought a painting featured in this blog with a number of condition issues noted by the auction house, so at least went in eyes wide open.

I found this brief description of what conditions issues to look for when buying a painting very helpful. It's in a blog by a gallery, Blue Heron Fine Art. Here is a link:

Condition, condition, condition.

One of our favorite paintings was given to us by my father. He bought it at a garage sale many years ago for about $50. When we got it we did some research, since it was signed Anton Mauve. Anton Mauve turned out to be the uncle of Vincent Van Gogh and taught him to paint! He is also in many museums. The subject is pretty typical of Mauve as well. We were pretty excited, needless to say. We thought we had one of those Antiques Roadshow sort of discoveries. Here it is:


We happen to have a neighbor in our building who does appraisals for Christie's. We asked if she could give us an opinion.  She looked it over and even sent a photo to a colleague in Amsterdam who is an expert on Mauve. You probably know where this is going, but it is a 19th century fake! Who knew that Anton Mauve was worth faking. Anyway, it's still one of our favorite paintings and has pride of place in our living room.

Many expert guides on collecting will tell you that one of the first rules is not to buy as an investment, but buy what you like and pay what you feel is a fair price to get that enjoyment. For the $50 my father paid for our 'Anton Mauve', we get more than that 100 times over in enjoyment. 

Before you bid on something, don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and ask them to point out the condition issues. This will help you learn what to look for on your own. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of Auctions!

We attended the Stair Modernism auction last night, March 12th, armed with a strategy to bid on 12 items. We prioritized, set limits, discussed what would happen if we won everything (see what happens later!), and even discussed what we might do if there was a real bargain to be had. Best laid plans....

But to start with, attending was fun. There was a real neighborhood atmosphere - kids, dogs, wine being served, and lively conversation.

Party atmosphere at Stair Galleries

Not everyone was having a good time!

We arrived earlier than we needed to based on our first item being Lot 279, but we enjoyed getting a feel for the bidding, and there were clearly some people that knew their art deco. For some pieces there was some quite lively bidding.

Our first lot was a dish set and not that important. We lost. The second item was also not that important and we capped at a low number. We lost. The third item our maximum bid was $100, and the winning bid was $2,300. Similarly the next won went for $2,300 and our max had been $500. We were getting a little disheartened at this point. 

The auction was full of highs and lows. More than a few pieces went for well below minimum estimates just to get rid of them - $1, $5, $25. It seems that people can't resist a bargain. Figure out what to do with it later!
Albert Cheuret Tulip Lamps. Est. $500 - $700

When they got to these lamps, the auctioneer said 'clearly we didn't appreciate what these are', and the bidding started at $2,000. The winning bid was $4,000.

We then has three items in a row coming up - some dining chairs, an art deco mirror and a dining table for our new house. We agreed that if we didn't get the chairs, we wouldn't bid on the dining table. I had told my husband that if there was one thing I wanted it was the art deco mirror.

Art deco mirror Est. $100 - $150

The first of the three in a row were the dining chairs. The bidding was lively and we were in the hunt, but we passed our max and gave up. Next was the mirror (above). We had set a max of $300 when we had discussed it the day before, but in my head I had moved it up, but never advised my husband, who had the paddle! He stopped at $300, and it went for $325. You can imagine just a little disappointment on my part!

That leads to a brief word on attending auctions and marital relationships! This created a bit of a strain. I lamented this loss through half of dinner afterward. My husband felt badly. Maybe I wanted him to feel bad! I wanted that mirror and we almost came away empty handed. But, then perspective returned. There will be other mirrors, and it really was MY fault. How was he supposed to read my mind? We resolved to develop a better communication method next time. 

Back to the auction, we had the dining table coming up immediately after the mirror, which we weren't bidding on because we didn't get the chairs.

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams table with leaf - Est. $800 - $1,200

The opening offer from the auctioneer kept dropping in an effort to get interest. It came down to $250 and we looked at each other and bid. We got it for $325! It's in great shape and it would cost a lot more new. 

Thus our strategy didn't quite go as we planned. I am sorry about the mirror, but happy with the table. Chairs and mirrors are on the list for future auctions, which gives us something to look forward to!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Decorating with Console Tables and Ideas from an Upcoming Auction

Another great piece of furniture can be a console, side board, or sofa table. They are usually a narrow table set in the entrance foyer, placed behind the sofa, or sitting along a wall in a hall or dining room. They generally serve as a place to put decorative objects on top and underneath. In the hall, it's a place to throw your keys as well! When you're having a party, it can be moved around to serve as the bar.

This rustic version serves as a display area for candles, books, flowers, and a small screen used as wall decoration.

Renovation Style

This console table is placed on a wall behind the sofa, and serves as a back drop for display. When you have a party, it can be cleared for hors d'oeuvres and drinks. You will want some sort of display surface in a living area if nothing else to place a few family photos. 

Here is a wonderful rustic version that would look great in a traditional or modern home. 

Art et Decoration, France

You might well find something like this at a country auction or a flea market for that matter. It just take a little courage to get past the distressed look and think of it as modern design. 

House Beautiful

This painted console table is quite traditional and works anywhere. Here in a foyer it serves as display both on top and underneath with the ceramic Chinese style garden seat.

New Orleans Auction has an auction coming up March 27 and 28th. I've mentioned them in a couple of previous blogs, and we've bought from them several times. We were introduced by a decorator I was working with, Elaine Griffin. She picked a wonderful desk for me to bid on (which I won), and it looks great in our media room, which Elaine decorated. Here is a link to the auction catalogue.

They have some very interesting examples of console tables. Their auctions are generally full of traditional antiques, and they will provide condition reports.

New Orleans Auction Lot 36 - 19th C. polychrome demilune table with marble top
Est. $1,800 - $2,500

This demi-lune shape fits in well almost anywhere, and the polychrome makes in suitable for even more informal rooms or decors.

New Orleans Auction Lot 45 - 19th C. Chinese Painters Table
Est. $1,200 - $1,800

I love Chinese style with any decor from traditional to spare modern. This table has a lot of interest with the carved design and is an art work in itself. 

 New Orleans Auction Lot 178 - Louis XVI style giltwood table with mirrored top
Est, $1,800 - $2,500

This is the most glamorous version of all. I think it belongs either in a very traditional home, or a very open modern home as a decorative object to draw the eye to a part of a room. 

All of these are a bit of an investment piece, but each is something you would live with forever. It could have spots in your home over the years, from the foyer to the dining room to the living room. And they serve as a display area for your collections and photographs!

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