Thursday, October 28, 2010

I love Art Deco!

We went to the International Fine Art and Antiques Dealers show in New York this past weekend (through October 28th). I was taken by all the Art Deco dealers, which is a testament to Art Deco's combination of 'antique' and modern. The French Deco is my favorite for it's gorgeous details and subtle curves.

Both these photos are of the Bernd Goeckler Antiques booth. The light fixtures grabbed my attention first, and then I was taken by the quality and design details of the desks and chairs. They have a great web site as well that will make you mad for Deco!

 Bernd Goeckler

Don't you love the delicious Murano light fixtures and the smart, tailored chairs (and everything else as well!)?

These room have taken inspiration from Deco with sleek lines and high style. These Park Avenue living and dining rooms were designed by Eve Robinson Associates. In the dining room look at the wonderful chandelier and the simple lines of the table and chairs. They remind me a bit of something you might have found on that wonderful Deco era ship, the SS Normandie. In the living room the coffee table and lamps particularly speak Deco to me.

You can, of course, find Art Deco style furniture at auction regularly, with pieces that are works of art (with prices to match) and some very good buys.

Both of these pieces sold at Dotle New York auctions earlier this year. The French Art Deco style rosewood library table at the top illustrates all the wonderful Deco features: wonderful shapes, attention to detail, and fine materials. It sold for $1,375. 

The French Art Deco console and mirror are fabulous. We bid on them ourselves absentee and didn't win. They went for $5,000 which was well above their auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. I can see why! The shapes are captivating and they are a work of art.

These two wonderful examples of Deco sold at Christie's auction house in New York. The desk and chair are French and made of fruitwood and gilt bronze. I love the sinuous shape of the desk and the blond color of the fruitwood. This set sold for $2,250, which was well below its auction estimate of $4,000 - $6,000.

The console cabinet had a similar auction estimate, and sold for $1,375. Art Deco makers often used exotic woods that are integral to that sense that you are looking at a piece of art. This cabinet is made of Macassar ebony which has that wonderful black grain in the brown.

Art Deco style is so very sophisticated and chic. It will dress up whatever style you have. Keep an eye out for a unique piece at auction that will be a function work of art in your home!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beds with flair

We spend a third of our lives in bed, and probably more than that in our bedrooms - hanging out, reading... Thus, it goes without saying that our bedroom is a space that needs as much attention to decorating detail as the rest of the house, but often doesn't get it.

 House Beautiful - Designer: Jonathan Berger

One way to add instant style is the headboard. In this bedroom above, Jonathan Berger took inspiration from an 18th century Venetian bed to design this headboard.

There are lots of retail options, but for something a bit more unique, let's see what we can find at auction.

I think this Napolean III tole bedframe has real interest, and is quite unique. It's from the 3rd quarter of the 19th century and has a double headboard. One of the tricky things about buying an antique bed is the size compared to modern mattress dimensions. This bed is 60" wide, so Queen size, but a bit shorter than the standard 80". There are two solutions: 1) just use the headboard, or 2) have a metal craftsman cut the frame and add, in this case, 4" of length. This bed sold for $215, so there might be room in the budget for solution #2. 

St. Charles Gallery, New Orleans

This Continental cast iron daybed would be great in a boy's bedroom. It is 3rd quarter 19th century, and is decorated with animal and foliate designs. It probably could use a good refinishing and a paint job, but would be a really special bed. It sold for $215.

This wonderful carved 'Indo-Portuguese' rosewood bed is late 19th century. It's not standard size, so would need either solution 1 or 2 (above). It's 63" wide so would work for a Queen size. This bed sold at Christie's last month for $3,250, which was well above the auction estimate of $1,000 - $2,000. The headboard is wonderfully detailed and would be a stand out in any bedroom.

There are lots of standard bed options at auction (four posters, sleigh beds...), but they are frankly kind of boring and often off sized (and usually quite cheap). I would focus at auction on the unique to make your style statement. Otherwise get something new in a retail furniture shop that will fit the standard mattress offerings.

Elle Decor - Designer: Carlos Miele

This is exactly what I'm talking about! Look at this great 18th century Portuguese headboard in Carlos Miele's bedroom in Florianopolis, Brazil. The carving is fantastic, and is beyond the ordinary. Pile it high with pillows, climb in, and read a good book!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adding architecture to your decor 'at auction'

Some of us live in architecturally sparse spaces by design, and others just because that was the hand we were dealt in finding our home. You can, of course, add architectural interest with moldings or other architectural elements, and there are always mantles! (Remember No fireplace? Buy a mantle!). There are wonderful finds at auction that can add an architectural flair without hiring an architect or contractor for a major installation.

From Room Lust blog - Designers: Bill Brockschmidt and Courtney Coleman

I love the look of columns. They define a space and even sometimes have a real function of holding up the ceiling - but not necessarily!

This smart but simple pair of neoclassical style oak columns sold at a St. Charles Gallery auction for $399.75 this past Summer. They are 64" tall and would add wonderful architectural interest to a room. I see them on either side of a sofa on the outside of the end tables. 

Both of these pairs of columns sold at the recent Doyle@Home auction in New York. The ones above left are a bit more decorated that the oak ones above, and quite attractive. They are described as neoclassical style painted and parcel gilt wood, and the pair sold for $1,250. They are 63" tall, and would be terrific in a modern loft, or a traditional decor crying out for some architectural detail.

I also love the ones on the right which are described as neoclassical fruitwood. They are 10 feet tall! Thus, not every space could fit them, but that may explain the sale price of $438.

Elle Decor - Designers: Stephen Sills and James Huniford

Columns add an elegance to a space, as this marble one does in the Bedford, NY estate of Stephen Sills and James Huniford. 
You can add your own columns for that bit of extra architectural interest. Try them in an entry, a living room, or dining room. Or use them to divide and define spaces. They could be free floating in a very large loft like room. They would also add an illusion of ceiling height which many contemporary homes lack. You will immediately get the feeling of your room being just a bit more dressed up!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cool Campaign Furniture

During wars in the 18th and 19th century if you were an officer you traveled to the front in style. You brought your own furniture, and the comforts of home (including servants!).

Your suite might include trunks, dressers, bed, desk and chair and assorted tables, all of which could be folded up for transport.

Southern Accents - Designer: Joe Minton

Today, campaign furniture is at the height of chic. A little bit masculine by it's very nature, and thus so easy to use in a tailored room decor. This bedroom designed by Joe Minton includes campaign style beds and trunks.
This little campaign table is one of the earliest antiques that I got as a kid, and it has traveled with me everywhere. It has a decorated brass trim and leather top.

The campaign desk above is wonderfully chic. This room was designed by Atlanta based designer Suzanne Kasler. Look for the X legs and the ability to fold up and move to your next camp!

This campaign chest is an excellent example of a multi-tasking piece of furniture. It's a late 18th century two part chest of drawers with handles on the sides for carrying, and is fitted with a writing desk in the top drawer. It sold at a Doyle New York auction for $1,625. 

I have always liked these traveling desks. They fold up into a very handsome box, and open anywhere for writing (not that we write letters on paper very much anymore!). This one sold at a St. Charles Gallery auction for $276. It's a William IV brass inlaid and rosewood lap desk. I've seen them put on stands and they make a smart looking side table.

Of course if you were on the road conducting a war you needed a chaise on which to rest. This folding iron campaign chair is a great example, and can serve several functions from reading chair to a sleeping cot. This sold at a Doyle new York auction for $469.

You, of course, needed a trunk. I like this one coming up at the October 23rd Copake Auction. It's Lot 513, 19th century and has an auction estimate of $25 - $45!

This very smart British 19th century mahogany and rattan campaign chair sold at a Brunk Auction for $1,300. This was well above it's estimate and is a testament to the allure of campaign furniture.

Campaign furniture is very chic, and it's designed to be smart and functional. Keep your eye out at auction, and find the perfect piece for your home!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Add a sconce & add mood

I think of sconces as art over function. They are a wonderful way to add decoration to your walls and mood lighting as well. They need not be expensive, but have a lot of bang for the buck in terms of adding style. I use them all over the place - with candles in the dining room, electrified versions on either side of the bed, either side of a mirror in a living room with or without electrification.  In a small entrance hall they add real glam either side of that small console table.

House Beautiful - Designer: Jonathan Rosen

Traditional Home - Designer: Jamie Drake

Canadian House and Home

My house

In each example the sconces serve to draw your eye, and are quite chic as well. The last example in my own house shows a very inexpensive candle sconce that I bought to dress up a furnished apartment in London. The pair was under $100, and we used them all the time.

At auction there is always a selection of sconces, so it's just a matter of finding a style that suits your own. Just think what a pair can do to dress up some place in your home that needs a little extra decorating oomph. 

I only needed to go to the next Doyle@Home sale scheduled for October 13th to show you a range of styles any of which would add chic to your space. 

This pair of neoclassical style gilt wood sconces are refined and elegant. I would love them in an entryway, a dining room, or even a  bathroom to add glamor. These are Lot 556, are 29" tall, and have an auction estimate at the Doyle's sale of $700 - $1,000.

Taking the glam up a notch try these George III style cut glass sconces. These are best in a dining room with some formality, or in a tiny powder room for an unexpected shot of style. These are Lot 607, 24" tall, and have an estimate of $800 - $1,200. 

I have a soft spot for anything neoclassical. I like the tailored look of these compact (13") gilt sconces. They speak of Napoleon to me. They are quite chic and would be great in a small space, like that non-entryway that needs definition. These are Lot 451A and have an auction estimate of $400 - $600.


This pair of Victorian style mirror backed and glass sconces are simple enough in design, but a statement in any room. The mirrors reflect the light adding more depth to the effect. These would be perfect in an entry, dining room or living room. These are Lot 445A, are 25" tall, and have an estimate of $600 - $900.

For something much more feminine, these Louis XV style tole and porcelain sconces are quite pretty. These would be great in a bijoux powder room, or maybe a your girl's bedroom. They are Lot 553, are 16" tall, and have an estimate of $400 - $600.

These really caught my eye! I have never seen anything quite like them. These are a pair of enameled metal cobra form sconces. I'm not exactly sure where I'd put them, but they would be quite unexpected in a dining room or entrance hall. They would certainly create conversation. These are Lot 372, are 35" tall, and have an auction estimate at Doyle New York of $400 - $600.

Take a look around your house or apartment and I'm sure you'll find a place that a pair of sconces would enhance!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sofas set the style

The biggest piece of furniture in a room is usually the sofa. By the very nature of size it will make a statement, so what does your sofa say about you? Are you telling your family and guests that this room is for relaxing, or is it about your design style?

Of course, everything else in the room will contribute to your style statement as well, but the sofa is the starting point.

This living room designed by Mrs. Howard is classic and inspired by English country house decorating. The sofas are welcoming and comfy. Great places to sit and have a long conversation.

This lovely settee is almost the opposite from the inviting English sofa. It's more formal and sets the Swedish style in this room. It's a nice place to rest for a moment or two, but probably not the place to sit for an afternoon with a good book.

There is something about the graceful curves of a Regency style sofa. It combines sculptural form with comfort. This living room designed by Darryl Carter mixes some wonderful antique pieces with a modern coffee table. Upholstering the sofa in white makes the wood curves pop. I love the whole look and could move in tomorrow. 

I love both of these sofas being offered at the Stair Galleries auction tomorrow evening (Oct. 8th). They would be a style statement, and a nice place to sit too! 

The top photo is Lot 105 and is described as a Biedermeier style sofa, and has an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. It's made of a lovely ash wood, and I even like the red and white striped upholstery. 

The bottom sofa photo is Lot 175A and is described as an American classical-style carved mahogany settee. It has wonderfully carved feet, and great curves. I would upholster this in white canvas like the Darryl Carter one above, and add a few bright pillows. This sofa has an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

This Edwardian satinwood recamier is another notch up the style statement scale. It has a wonderful shape and I could see an elegant lady sitting with her right arm propped on the high end reading a book. This is being offered in the next Doyle @Home auction and has an estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

You may well want something more comfy looking. This sofa sold for the bargain price of $188 at the last Christie's Interiors auction! It needs updated upholstery in my opinion, but is actually a nice shape with the curved arms. For that price you could invest in a great designer fabric and pillows.

Bonhams Los Angeles
Eames "Small Dot" by Maharam/Kvadrat

For a modern design vibe, this Isamu Noguchi sofa and ottomon would do the trick. They are very space age cool. They were designed in 1946 and reproduced by Vitra in 2002. I might like them in a mid-century design fabric like this one in yellow designed by Charles and Ray Eames. The sofa and ottomon sold at the last Bonhams Los Angeles sale Oct. 5th for $2,074.

When buying a sofa at auction keep a couple of things in mind:
  1. Check condition, like springs and wear on upholstery. They can be fixed/changed, but it can cost a fair amount. 
  2. Remember you will need to hire a shipping company to move it. Another expenditure to add. 
  3. As always at auction, before bidding know what you want to spend (including all the extras like 1 and 2 above) and stick to your number. I've seen used items go for more than buying it new, just because the bidding in the room pushed the price up. But there are bargains too!
Your sofa will set the tone of your room. Think about how you want to use it (conversation, reading, just to look at...), and pick your style.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lamps with attitude

Lighting adds mood and drama to your decor, as well as light! Having lots of lighting options allows you to adjust for the occasion. Chandeliers, sconces, lots of lamps, recessed ceiling lights, and everything on dimmers create infinite possibilities for reading, cooking, dining, or romantic evenings.

Lamps are the ultimate in flexibility. They can be design statements in themselves, and they can be moved around from room to room to change the decor at a moments notice.

There are certain classics: Chinese vases wired as lamps, column lamps including converted candlesticks, floor lamps (great for corners and tight spaces), and variations on each.

Looking at past and future auctions is a great way to get ideas of style and cost.

I love the shape and the peach ground of these classic Chinese porcelain vases turned in to lamps. They are 19" tall and sold for $123 at the last St. Charles Gallery auction in New Orleans.

For a modern take on a classic, I like these red glazed stoneware lamps, circa 1965, sold at the last Wright Mass Modern auction in Chicago. Like the Chinese example above, they have a great shape and the red color makes them pop in any room. They are 31.5" tall and sold for $625.

The last Chirsties Interiors sale in New York included these two
pairs of lamps. Column or candlestick lamps are always a great choice. They are simple in design and very chic!

The cut glass brass mounted column lamps on the left work with traditional or modern style. These are 29" tall and sold for $1,125.

The lamps on the right are Louis Philippe patinated bronze and ormulu candlesticks mounted as lamps. These are 24.5" tall and sold for $1,750. This style is copied in new versions all the time.

Floor lamps are great for flexibility and low profile. You may have a dark corner that needs filling, or may not have the space or want end tables in your living room. A floor lamp is a great option, and can me easily moved around the room as needed.

 I found these wonderfully simple regency style mahogany torcheres (left) in the upcoming Stair Galleries Exposition Auction October 8th in Hudson, NY. They even have a small table surface to use for your drink. These are Lot 43 and have an auction estimate of $150 - $300. Having a pair means you could place them on either side of a sofa, or next to two chairs for a balanced look.

For a modern take, this TH Robsjohn-Gibbing brass lamp (right) is simple and elegant. It was sold at Doyle New York auction recently for $531.

While you can't go wrong with the classics (or variations), you will find lots of what I will call 'decorator' options at auction.

These gilt metal lamps are quite chic and sculptural. They are classic and modern at the same time. They work in a dressed up living room, or a feminine bedroom. They are 31" tall sold at a Doyle + Design auction for $813.

I included these lamps in a recent blog (Inspiring rooms and re-creating the look at auction). They hadn't sold at that point, so I thought I'd revisit them here. I love them for their sculptural quality and size (31.5" tall). They make a statement without being overwhelming, and work in any style room. They are made of ebonized wood and brass and sold at the Doyle + Design sale for $875, which was above their estimate of $500 - $700. Just had a simple paper shade and you're good to go!

You can always use more lamps! Use them to add a contrasting style, a jolt of color, or as a piece of art. Lamps provide light, but they can be fun too!
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