Sunday, August 29, 2010

Are you off your rocker - a cool rocking chair?

For me, rocking chairs conjure up visions of retirement homes, and occasionally a rustic front porch. I rarely think of them as cool.

I've been struck by some cool versions at auction that make me pause and wonder if I should add a rocking chair to my home. It might be nice to curl up with a book or watch TV while rocking myself to relaxation.

Now this is a cool rocker! This is described as a late 19th century 'American Innovative' rocking chair. It sold at a New Orleans Auction for $307! I love the circular forms and the broken in brown leather.

This rocking chair is as mid-century as it gets. Wonderful simple lines and leather upholstery. This was designed by Ole Wanscher (Danish 1951) and sold for $1,875 at a Wright 21 Scandinavian sale earlier this year. It had an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000.

New Orleans Auction - Lot 581 - Sept. 11th and 12th

But, if the traditional rocker is what rocks you, then this vernacular American painted oak ladderback may be for you. It's circa 1900 and has an auction estimate at New Orleans Auction of $200 - $400.

Then there's the classic Charles and Ray Eames version. This one sold at a Wright 21 Auction for $813. I like this particular one because of the blue upholstery with the red plastic.

I may be won over to the idea that a rocking chair can be cool, and will be keeping my eye out at auction for one that has great design as well as comfort.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Don't be too predictable!

My rule # 1 - Don't be too predictable in your decorating style.

OK, I have been known to fall in to the traps of what would be 'expected' in a traditional or modern design. For traditional I lean towards an English classic design. For my modern moods, I lean towards mid-century. For both, I always add some Asian pieces. I think mixing all in one might be a lot more interesting.

This spread in Elle Decor demonstrates the idea.

This house is clearly a modern design. The Wilton, Connecticut home of Yvonne and Jay Fielden was designed by Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller.

The modern living room includes a very traditional George Smith wing back chair.

The library includes a faux bamboo chair! Remember my blog on Faux bamboo chic!

This painted French writing desk makes a nice console table in the bedroom. They also make use of Ikea furniture in almost all the rooms so they're not afraid of mixing high and low.

There are certain classic of furniture styles that work in any decorating style.

This pair of wing back chairs sold at the July New Orleans Auction for $1,107. I actually like the gray flannel upholstery.  It's quite modern looking and would look great paired with a white sofa.

As in the photo spread above, a classic Louis XV style  French writing desk (made mid-19th century) can work in all types of design settings. This example from the upcoming September 11th and 12th New Orleans Auction has an auction estimate of $2,500 - $4,000.

Stair Galleries - Lot 239 - Auction of August 28th

This fun chair would make a nice accent piece in a room with a little extra interest. This is in the August 28th auction at Stair Galleries in Hudson, NY. It's described as a Renaissance style carved oak arm chair and has an estimate of $200 - $400. This auction is without reserves. 

Stair Galleries - Lot 249

This Chinese red painted table is a classic. Asian accents are a wonderful addition to any style room, and the red paint adds color as well. This is Lot 249 in the next Stair Galleries auction and has an estimate of $400 - $600.

My vow from now on is to follow 'Rule No. 1" and mix styles to create unpredictability and interest to my decor.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Corner Chairs

Like a stool, a corner chair can be quite usable. It's a good way to squeeze in extra seating and fill that empty corner with something decorative. I found a few at auctions that could tempt.

This George III oak corner chair is both rustic and elegant at the same time. It's being offered at the Stair Galleries auction August 28th in Hudson, NY. It's Lot 218 and has an estimate of $400 - $600.

This wacky chair is included in the Christie's Interiors sale August 31 and September 1. I actually think it's quite interesting and would be a fun conversation piece in the corner. I'm not sure how comfortable it would be! This is Lot 484 and it's described as a 2nd half of the 19th century Rococo revival mahogany corner chair. It has an estimate of $1,500 - $2,000.

You don't see lots of them, but if you find a decorative corner chair, snap it up. Who doesn't have a corner that sits empty?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Looking forward to Fall!

On the one hand the end of Summer is a bit melancholic, but I also look forward to the crisp air of Fall, and of course the new season of auctions! Here are September schedules for some of the auction houses I follow, with a few new additions discovered more recently.

Bonhams (US locations)
  • Sept. 13 - Los Angeles - Fine European and Decorative Arts. If you're in the market for good quality traditional antiques, this looks like the auction for you. Nice looking catalogue on-line. This Neoclassical style garden gazebo caught my eye. Beautiful, if but a bit expensive. Shipping needs to be considered too!
 Sept. 13th sale - Lot 4395 - Estimate $10,000 - $15,000
  • Sept. 16 - New York - Estate of Laura Speiser and Private Florida Collection. Estate sales are always promising!
  • Sept. 19 - San Francisco - SoMa Estate Auction. This is their regular estate auction. 
  • Sept. 27 - Los Angeles - 20th Century Decorative Arts. This should be fun!
Brunk Auctions, Asheville, NC
  • September 11th and 12th - General Auction. This looks interesting. Everything from wine, to modern decorative objects to traditional furniture.

The 5 pieces of 20th century Scandinavian art glass form an 'instant collection' and add a jolt of color to the room. They have an estimate at Brunk of $300 - $600.  The Regency style recamier has wonderful curves, and while the condition report says it has a few nicks, it looks to be in pretty good condition. This is Lot 1208 and has an auction estimate of $880 - $1,200.

Christie's New York
  • 30 September - Christie's Interiors sale. The September schedule at Christie's is pretty busy. I like the Interiors sales for affordability and selection. 
Clarke Auction, Larchmont, NY
  • Sept. 13th - General Estate Auction.
Copake Auction, Copake, NY
  • Sept. 25th - General Unreserved Estate Auction. Always good Americana.
Doyle New York
  • Sept. 15th - Belle Epoque: 19th and 20th Century Decorative Arts. These sales usually have a good selection of affordable antiques. Definitely worth checking out. 
  • Sept. 28th - Doyle + Design. This is usually a stylish selection of furniture and decoration with lots of modern pieces. 
There are several auction houses that have yet to post their September schedule or they will start the Fall in October for auctions that include furniture: Dawson and Nye, Montclair, NJ, New Orleans Auction Galleries, Stair Galleries, Hudson, NY, and Wright 21.

Friday, August 20, 2010

End of Summer Auctions - Asian Accents

We wandered over to the Stair Galleries auction preview for the sale August 28th in Hudson, NY. This is a Stair "Exposition Auction' which means that it is all without reserve. Some of the lots are from the estate of Leila Hadley Luce, who was a travel writer and socialite. She died in 2009.

Asian accents work in any decor from traditional to modern, and there are some nice examples in this upcoming sale.

I love this Chinese red-painted table. It would go anywhere. It is Lot 249 and has an auction estimate of $400 - $600.

This Chinese hardwood console table has an interesting design and very nice brasses. This is Lot 243 and has an estimate of $400 - $600.

This Chinese red-stained spice cabinet is a work of art. It's is quite impractical for use as real storage because all the drawers are quite small. but the decoration would just pop in a room. This is Lot 236 and has an estimate of $250 - $450. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

End of Summer Auctions - Looking for Bargains!

I am a bit surprised at all the auctions that take place in August. It's vacation time after all, and the regular customers may not be around. Anyway, I went on-line looking for potentially interesting bargains.

This Georgian style settee has graceful lines and seems a good buy if it comes in near it's estimate of $200 - $400 at the Doyle@Home End of Summer sale August 18th in New York.

Doyle@Home - Lot 482

I think this Korean brass mounted hardwood chest is quite interesting and decorative. This has an estimate of $500 - $700. 

Doyle@ Home - Lot 471

This Louis XVI style mahogany writing desk has simple lines and would work in a traditional or modern styled room. This has an estimate of $400 - $600 which is a great price for a mahogany desk.

This modern brushed steel daybed with leather cushion and ottomon will be offered at the Stair Galleries Exposition sale August 28th in Hudson, NY. I think it's very cool looking. The auction estimate is $400 - 600, and there is no reserve.

The next Copake Auction August 21st in Copake, NY includes this pair of Empire style chairs with rush seats. I love all the curves, and the rush seats. They have an auction estimate of $150 - $250.

End of Summer may be a time for vacations, but keep an eye on the auction sites for that potential bargain find.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My tips for bidding at auction

If you've never bought anything at auction before, it can seem a little scary, but it shouldn't. I don't always 'win' my bids, but here are some things I've learned along the way.

Auctions are fun!

There is no better way to get over the auction jitters than to attend an auction or two to get the feel of it. You will see how people bid, and the dynamic in the room. Every auction will be a little bit different, but it helps to see how it works.

Auction Estimates and the Buyer's Premium

The auction house places estimate ranges on all the lots. They often have a reserve set which will be unstated (a price below which they will not sell the item), so look for the note that an item is 'without reserve" which is an opportunity for bargains!

If you look at auction results you will see that items can go for well below or well above the estimate range, so my own personal rule is to try to 'ignore' the estimate, and bid what I think is the price I'm willing to pay. I've missed out on some bargains by paying too much attention to the estimate, only to find that the lot went for well below. Here is an example!

These Gae Aulenti chairs sold at a Wright Auction for $281! They had an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000.

On the other hand this Isamu Noguchi for Herman Miller table sold at a Stair Galleries auction
for pretty much the retail price at $1,600, which we knew because we had checked it out on line before bidding. The estimate was $500 - $700.

Always remember that there is a buyer's premium which is a percentage applied above the bid price. These are often in the range of 15% - 17.5%.

Research and preparation

The more research you can do to prepare yourself to make a bid the better. That way you can set a price target that is something you're comfortable with, and not more. It requires real discipline, but you won't find that you overpaid for something later.

As an example, I planned to buy a desk at auction, so my first step was to go to a number of retail stores to find desks I liked and price them. I used these prices to set my top price for what I would pay at auction.You've seen my desk before if you follow my blog, but here it is again, and I love it. I got it for $1,750 at Doyle New York.

Bidding at auction in person

Attending the auction in person is the best way to bid if you can do it. I don't shy away from absentee bids, but I have also missed out on items that I might have bid on opportunistically if I'd been at the auction.

1) Prepare your list of auction lots you want to bid on, and set your top price. This is important because the bidding can move very fast, and you don't necessarily want to be swept up in a frenzy and then wonder what your did when it comes time to pay!

2) When your lot comes up, sit back for a bit and let others bids before you.  If there isn't much interest, the price may be dropped by the auctioneer, so you wouldn't want to miss that. Jump in as the bidding slows down, but stop when you hit your top price.

We found at a Stair Galleries auction that everything we wanted to bid on went for more than our top limits. However, we ended up buying a dining table for $325 that we hadn't planned to bid on, but it was such a bargain that we jumped in. We're happy we did. 

Absentee Bidding

Sometimes you can't attend the auction, or don't want to! We have often bid absentee because we didn't want to subject ourselves to the auction frenzy and the potential disappointment! Instead just wait for the call for a winning bid after the auction is over.

Auction houses are happy to take absentee bids. Some have on-line bidding now too. You just fill out the form and put in your top bid. You will get it for less if that's the way the bidding went at the auction itself. We have often won things for less that the absentee bid we put in. It's a safe way to go.

You can always check the sales results afterwards to see what the items went for.

Telephone bidding

Most auctions will take telephone bids. You have to arrange this ahead of time with the auction house, and tell them which lots you want to bid on. They will call you and you can then bid 'live'. If you really want something, this is a good alternative to being there in person. I did this once on a writing desk at New Orleans Auction, and it was successful.

Auction previews or not!

Obviously the best way to buy anything is to see it in person. I have often seen something on line that in person doesn't quite look the same or the condition is worse than I thought. Or maybe the seat cushion is a bit saggy, and would need a repair.

That said, I've bought things just based on the on-line catalogue. I would never buy a painting, but I have bought furniture. I would recommend asking for a condition report from the auction house, or even calling and talking to someone about it. People buy lots of things on-line, why not furniture at auction.

The one thing to research ahead before buying from an auction house that's not in your town is the shipping cost. The auction house can help with that too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Loft Decorating Inspiration

I was looking for inspiration on Flikr for decorating lofts and open plan rooms, and came across Pappas Miron Interior Design which is based in NY. The decorators Alexandra Pappas and Tatyana Miron have a design philosophy I can identify with:

'Pappas Miron Design is guided by the principles of living well in relaxed, modern environments. Tatyana and Alexandra share a love for antiques and vintage textiles as well as an appreciation for new artisans work and inspiring new materials. This juxtaposition combined with rich colors makes their interiors exciting and youthful.'

This fits well with auction decorating and combining new and old happily together in a contemporary environment.

I love the orange day bed which serves to divide the space from living to dining.

This sleek modern interior also uses a classic sofa (facing rear) but with a fun modern upholstery.

This entrance hall uses mid-century style chairs and chandelier.

This room mixes traditional with modern easily. Note the classic chandelier and the mid-century style chairs.

I took this inspiration to the auction sites to see what I could find in terms of items I would use to decorate 'my' loft.

This chair and table may be a great way to get something current at less than retail. This lot 943 is described as Leon Krier for Giorgetti (late 20th century). The chair is Italian ebonized and cherry, and the lot has an estimate of $600 - $900, which I have to believe is less than buying it new. I fall for almost anything of modern Italian design.

Christie's Interiors Sale - Lot 946

This distressed pine refectory table would look terrific in an open plan space. It's also 20th century and has an estimate of $500 - $700 in the same Christie's NY sale.
Christie's (NY) Interiors Sale - Lot 915

These chairs are made of raffia and ebonized wood. They would look perfect with the table above. Chic but not too formal. There are 6 of them in the Christie's sale and they have an estimate of $1,500 - $2000.

Wright Mass Modern Auction (July)

You may remember these chairs from my June Decorating Modern post. They were sold in the Wright Mass Modern auction in July. They are by Knoll and had an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000. They sold for $281!!!! Sorry I missed them. 

Finally, to divide the open space into 'rooms' add this Biedermeier day bed. It sold at the Stair Galleries sale in June for $3,500, which was above the estimate of $1,000 - $2,000. It very smart looking and nicely upholstered. You wouldn't have to do anything but place it in the room!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hudson New York Design Inspirations

August is a bit slow just now on the auction front and while waiting on the next crop of end of Summer auctions to be posted, I wandered in to Hudson, NY for some decorating inspiration. Hudson is full of antique and design shops, along with a number of very good retaurants. It's two hours from New York City on the train and worth a trip.

I love the shop Lili and Loo for their affordable designs, and their sense of style. They effortlessly combine classics with industrial pieces.

I love the purple daybed and the terrific lantern on the coffee table. You can also always use a Louis XVI style chair in classic and modern settings.Upholster it with something fun!

This French styled love seat is paired with a metal and wood coffee table and the cool metal side table. Many of their mirrors use warm copper frames.

Another classic sofa in purple! I love it for the warmth. The metal table and really interesting mirror give it the modern edge.

A classic French style settee is paired with a Chinese style console table and a great mirror.

When decorating 'at auction' think of the classics along with the modern for a great contemporary look.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Everyone NEEDS a Tea Cart

A tea cart or drinks trolley must be one of the most versatile pieces of furniture. It's your drinks cart for serving wonderful cocktails, it's a TV table that can move around the room (with enough cable!), it's a small book shelf, it's holds all manor of things in the bathroom (towels, extra TP, perfumes....), and it can be a decorative way to store your printer and paper in your office. It's best feature is that it has wheels and can easily move around the room.

Let's see what we can find at auction that has interest as well as being utilitarian.

The next estate sale at Clarke Auction, Larchmont, NY has this smart tea cart made of brass, wood and glass. It has an estimate of $100 - $150. I like the extra shelf on the side.

This drinks trolley sold at the last Doyle@Home auction in July for $688 (estimate had been $300 - $500). It has clean lines and classic glass and metal materials.

I showed this drinks trolley in a previous blog, but have to show it again. It's so cool. It sold at the July New Orleans Auction for $688 (estimate was $500 - $800). It's mid-century and brushed steel.  Can't you just see some martini glasses on top and a couple of different vodkas for your guests to choose from?

For the true collector among us this Edward Wormely 'party server bar, model 5433 (1954)' might be just the investment piece. It sold at a Wright auction earlier in the year for $5,000 (estimate range was $3,000 - $5,000). It ticks all the mid-century boxes and is useful as well!

Keep your eye out for your tea cart and make sure it's decorative and not just utilitarian. You can have both!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dramatic Lighting

A chandelier can add chic style to even the most modestly furnished home. Those Ikea finds will take on a new look. 'Chandeliers" can be simple or dramatic, but all add interest and a focal point for the room. They can define a space in a larger area, and just add more light to the room! Auctions are full of interesting and unusual chandeliers to fit just about any style.

 Both photos decorator Phoebe Howard

I love a lantern style chandelier in cozy sitting rooms or dens, and of course they look great in a hallway. The chinoiserie style of the one above in the entrance hall is particularly chic.

Elle Decor - Designer: Clora Kelley

This room is decorated in a modern style, but has a traditional glass or crystal chandelier. The look works and tells me not to be afraid to mix modern and traditional elements. Why be a slave to a single style look in a room. 

Homes and Gardens Magazine, UK

This lovely small chandelier dresses up this dining area without going over the top. 

When I started to look at auction sites I found so many great examples of different style chandeliers to suit any taste from Murano to 1950's. We'll start with traditional and move to modern.

Christie's Interiors Sale Aug. 31 and Sept. 31 - Lot 525

This Venetian Murano 6 light chandelier is a classic. In my opinion the styling is a more fun than cut glass or crystal. They often can be found in multiple colors which adds even more interest. This particular one is coming up in the Christie's Interiors sale in New York at the end of the month. It has an estimate of $1,500 - $2,000. 

Christie's Interiors sale - Lot 642

This gilt and patinated bronze light is a wonderful neo-classical style. It has a certain masculinity to it. This has an estimate of $500 - $700. 

Christie's Interiors - Lot 647

I love hanging lanterns, and this one is even a wonderful color. It's 'tole peinte' and glass, and has an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. I'd put this in an adult or kids bedroom.

 New Orleans Auction

At the most recent New Orleans Auction this fun chinoiserie style lantern sold for $1,476 (auction estimate was $200 - $400). It's very chic and almost a bit whimsical. I would use this anywhere - dining, hall, bedroom, or bath room. 

Now let's see if we can find something more modern. 

New Orleans Auction

This sold at the recent New Orleans auction and was described as a French black and white drum chandelier. I think it's very cool. I want this over a dining table in the dining room or kitchen. It sold for a bargain $369!

This sold at the last Wright Mass Modern sale for $1,500. It's a circa 1965 Atomic chandelier, and just shouts fun. 

I had to control myself with examples. There were so many at current and past auctions. They are all so much more interesting than buying something new at retail prices. Next time you want to update a space, buy a chandelier!

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