Friday, December 23, 2011

Decorating with paintings

I love art, but particularly portrait paintings. I connect with the character in the face, whether it's a mysterious smile, a self confident stare, or an enigmatic look trying to tell me something about him or herself. We have always bought our paintings at auction.

Art et Decoration (France)

In this room portraits are grouped on the wall behind a bright red IKEA sofa. The article in Art et Decoration called the combination 'audacious'! I like the contrast of the color and the more muted portraits, and the juxtaposition of the old and new.

Canadian House and Home

In this entryway, two type of portraits provide contrast - an oil painting of a gentleman, and the line drawing of the woman. Both make you stop and look to try to understand who they were and what we can tell about their personalities.

This English 18th century portrait actually has a female companion (not shown). I think he has a lot of character. I love the period clothing and the confident gaze. This sold at a Christie's auction in New York for $625 for the pair off an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. They measure 12 inches x 10 inches.

This Spanish portrait is wonderful Her strong eye brows are great. Her dress and locket are lovely. This sold at Christie's  for $188 off an auction estimate of $600 - $800. It's 19th century and signed 'Lopez Egea y Marin'. It measures 24.5 inches x 19 inches.

Copake Auction  in Copake, NY traditionally has a New Year's Day auction. We went last year, and it was a great way to spend the day. This portrait is included in the one coming up. This is Lot 112. It's 19th century, measures 21 inches x 16 inches, and has an auction estimate of $400 - $600. I love his almost smile, and his strong gaze out of the painting. The bit of red in his clothing makes it that much more interesting.

I was taken by this 20th century Latin American portrait that sold at a New Orleans auction. The strong yellow of his shirt makes this pop. His look is almost quizzical. This measures 23 inches x 20 inches, and sold for $430 off an auction estimate of $400 - $700.

We have had very good luck buying paintings at auction. We feel that we've gotten some very interesting pieces at good prices. One does need to check condition carefully (check my Buying Paintings at Auction).

It's fun to mix periods and styles when collecting. You can make an investment or buy bargains with lots of interest. I can't keep my eyes off portraits! Have fun with it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rustic Rules 'at auction'

Every once in a while I am impressed by decor that dares to be rustic. You have to have a lot of self confidence and creativity to use furniture that looks little better than cast away stuff, and put it all together in a chic and comfortable style.

AD Espana - Home of Jacobo Valenti and Luis Sendino

In this AD Espana spread, the vacation home of Jacobo Valenti and Luis Sendino dares to be rustic. The trestle table in the top photo is made to look cool by the simple display of dramatic black and white photos and the Japanese-like floral display.

The middle picture is the one that first caught my eye. There are so many elements that take creativity to put together, but it works! Just look at the sofa, the side chairs on the left, the coffee table, and the chest against the wall. Each one is a bit shabby chic, and together they create a welcoming space.

In the bottom picture, the vintage sink looks great, and the old lights are mounted on the wooden grid, which makes it very architectural.

Auctions provide lots of opportunity for similar pieces, just requiring a creative eye.

Kamelot Auctions in Philadelphia often has auctions that include industrial and architectural salvage pieces.  I love the simplicity of this circa 1940 work table. It would make a great console table in an entryway if you have one that's big enough, or t would be a great work table in a kitchen. This sold for $600 off an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,800.

This fabulous piece also sold at a Kamelot auction. This industrial table actually has a roller top, which make it that much more interesting. The X-form stretcher is very chic. This is circa 1910, and sold for $800 off an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. 

This campaign style metal bed would make a very nice settee. Get a good mattress, and pile it high with big pillows, and you'd re-create the look in the second photo at the top. If you look carefully you will notice lovely decorative detail in the metal legs. This sold at a Copake Auction in Copake, NY for $25 off an auction estimate of $100 - $150.

For something a bit more refined, this rope bed also sold at a Copake auction. It's 19th century with tiger maple arms. I think it's very smart looking and would make a very chic settee - just add some pillows! This sold for $80 off an auction estimate of $50 - $100.

This circa 1910 trough style sink is pretty cool. You'd have to be a self confident decorator to use this, but once in place it would be lots of fun. It has multiple faucets across the top. This sold at a Kamelot auction for $475 off an auction estimate of $400 - $600.

I wanted to find a painted apothecary cabinet like the one in the middle photo at the top. This is not as long, but has that great rustic look that you can't recreate. This is a 19th century cabinet and sold at a Brunk Auction in Asheville, NC for $1,000 off an auction estimate of $400 - $600. The shabby chic paint is very desirable.

Picking up industrial and vintage pieces can make for a very comfortable relaxed look. It's fun if you can get some bargains too! Mix them with more vintage or with something more refined, and make your style stand out from the crowd!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Create a great wall with a Chinese screen

Chinese screens are often fabulous works of art. They are amazingly versatile objects to decorate with. They can add separation to a room, hide a bad feature, or just stand as a work of art.And you can move them around!

Elle Decor - Designer: Michael S. Smith

In Michael S. Smith's own Manhattan apartment he uses a Chinese screen to fill the wall behind the sofa. This screen is a deep rich red design. It serves a great wall art, warms the room, and adds architectural interest to a room without much.

 Architectural Digest - Designer: Katherine Newman

In contrast to the screen in the first photo, this one is on a gold ground and shimmers in the corner of this room designed by Katherine Newman.  It fill an otherwise empty space and adds interest to the room. It would draw your eye and make the room feel deeper and bigger. 

Elle Decor - Designer: William Frawley
In yet another variation, this open  fretwork Chinese screen serves as room separation between the living area and the kitchen - and it does it with style!

This lovely Chinese six panel black lacquered coromandel screen, early 20th century, has one side depicting flowers and birds, and the other side with a gilded surface with shore birds and bamboo forest, h. 72-1/2", w. 96". This was offered in the New Orleans Auction (Lot 134) in the past few days. It had an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500 (the reslts were not posted as of this writing). This is a classic design, and would shimmer in the room.

This  four panel Chinese coromandel screen measure 6 feet tall, with each panel measuring 16 inches. This sold at a Doyle New York auction for $250 off an auction estimate of $300 - $500. The gold ground sets off a rather colorful design. This would brighten up a room!

I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I found this screen which sold at a Christie's auction in New York. I love the silvered ground, which is a nice change from the more classic gold. Maybe that's why it only sold for $125, off an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000! It measures 84 inches tall, and has six 16 inch panels. It's 20th century. Beautiful bargain!

I love the warmth of the wood and the fretwork pattern in this Chinese four panel softwood screen. It's 18th century, and measures the upper panels carved with geometric motifs 83 inches high, and 100 inches wide. This sold at a Christie's auction in New York for $1,080 off an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,000. 

Chinese screens come up at auction regularly. You will certainly be able to find one that fits your style. They can be rustic or refined, bargains or investments, so have finding one for your decor!
You can register an interest with auction consolidators like Live Auctioneers, or the individual auction houses. They will then send you email alerts when something is coming up. I would check Christie's regularly, as well as Bonhams, which in the US if cocused on the West Coast.

Monday, November 21, 2011

What I want for Xmas... an X-form stool 'at auction'!

Who doesn't have a soft spot for an X-form stool! They are so chic, and versatile too! They fit anywhere, in any style decor, and what a great holiday gift! They can be found regularly at auction.

 Elle Decor - Designer: Paolo Moschino

This living room designed by Paolo Moschino is a great example of X stool chic. In a room with two large comfy sofas, additional seating is offered by the day bed and the X form stools. The stools can be moved around, and with a tray on top could even serve as another table. I also loved the blue leather upholstery. This adds color to the room, and looks very smart!

 Elle Decor - Designer: Gwynn Griffith

In this library, the designer Gwynn Griffith places a pair of X form stools by a table piled high with books. They are so inviting as a place to sit and flip though some of the books as you walk by. They don't take up any room either. 

This pair of neoclassical style x-form stools are extra chic because of the leopard print upholstery. Nothing like a touch of animal print in a room to jazz it up.These are Lot 1020 in the Bonhams auction being held December 5th in Los Angeles. They are fruitwood and 19th century. They have an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

This lovely little stool is an early 19th century Regency mahogany curule-form stool. This is included in the next Christie's Interiors sale in New York December 8th. This is Lot 177, and has an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.

This Victorian X form stool made of walnut has lovely carved detail. It's also adjustable for height since it was meant to be a piano bench. This sold at a Brunk Auction for $100! This was such a bargain, I would have had the seat recovered in a fun bright colored leather or velvet.

For a modern take, try these stools by the Danish designer Östen Kristiansson, circa 1970, They are made of leather, oak and brass, and fold up, so that you can leave them in a closet or against a wall until needed - but why would you? They are very cool looking, and would be great set up in your living room for extra seating. These sold at a Wright auction for $1,875 off an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000. 

Architectural Digest - Designer: Shelton, Mindel & Assocs.

The Poul Kjærholm stools in this Manhattan living room are a perfect example of the modern take on the X stool. There isn't really extra room for seating around the generous coffee table besides the sofa and pair of tub chairs, but these X stools snuggle right in. 

With the holidays coming up, and if you're wondering what to give that special person who already has everything (!), put an X stool or two on your list and keep an eye out at auction.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cool modern bar carts

I love the idea of a bar cart. Use it for drinks, or as a side table piled high with magazines. The beauty of it is that it can easily be moved around.

Skonahem Magazine (Sweden)

Doesn't this look cool! Great your guests with a martini glass or even just a glass of wine for a festive start to your party. 
Try this mid-century version out for size at the next Kamelot Auction in Philadelphia scheduled for November 19th. This is made of chrome and brass and is 26.5" high. It was made circa 1960, and has an auction estimate of $200 - $400. It's conveniently on rollers, and can be moved around to your guests!

Here is another mid-century design, but much more traditional looking in my opinion. This is described as an Aldo Toro brass and goat skin serving cart, circa 1960. This is also in the Kamelot auction with an estimate range of $100 - $200. It's 29 inches tall. I like the classic design and can easily see it stacked with wine and crystal Glasses, or alternatively with magazine on the bottom rack and tea and cookies on the top. 

There's something about a multi-tiered cart. It makes for much more interesting display. Think of all the options - glasses on one level, bottles on another, a cool ice bucket on a third, and perhaps some flowers. This is an Edward Wormley designed cart circa 1957 for Dunbar, and sold at a Wright Auction in Chicago for $875 off an auction estimate of $500 - $700. It's made of laminate, walnut and brass.

For another multi-tiered version, here is a  Gabriella Crespi designed cart, circa 1970. It's made of brass, glass and plastic. This sold at a Wright Auction for $2,000 off an auction estimate of $3,000 - $5,000. Very sleek and very Italian!
 Elle Decor - Designer: Robert Stilin

For another idea of how to use a bar cart, in this bedroom the designer, Robert Stilin, uses one as a coffee table in front of the couch. You could move it around the seating area depending on where you sit. Pile the bottom shelf with books and magazine, and have your pot of coffee on the top shelf for a relaxing Sunday morning!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bill Blass Style 'at auction'

I have always liked the fashion designs of Bill Blass - classic and simple with gorgeous details. His apartment in New York designed with the help of Chessy Rayner and Mica Ertugun of the interior design firm MAC II reflect the same aesthetic.

All photos via Home Design Ideas blog

The furniture is very Regency in style and the decorative details are wonderfully classic, like globes, architectural models, and columns. The apartment is masculine, but not so much so that I couldn't move right in! I wouldn't change a thing. 

I thought I'd look at auctions to find a few things that Bill would like if he were still with us!

Stair Galleries in Hudson, NY has an auction November 4th at 6pm English, Continental and American antiques. If Bill were here he'd love this Empire style table. This is Lot 29, and is made of Kingwood, tulipwood, and has gilt-metal mounts and is part-ebonized. The classic decoration with the heads holding up the top make this a piece that could grace a smaller entyway, or a living room. This has an auction estimate of $700 - $900.

This chair exudes chic! This is an Italian late Neoclassical style part-ebonized, parcel gilt, carved mahogany curule form chair. This is Lot 39 in the Stair auction, and has an auction estimate of $400 - $600. The arms topped with eagle and rams heads, with hoofed feet tick all the classical style boxes. 

You will notice in the Bill Blass apartment that he has a number of bronze sculptures and classical marble busts. This bronze pacing lion would fit in perfectly. This is included in the Christie's NY auction titled '500 Years of Decorative Arts Europe', which is being held November 22nd. This is Lot 3 and measures 4 1/2 inches tall and 7 inches long. It's 19th century Italian, and has an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000.

The Christie's sale has a lot of beautiful antique furniture, much of which fit better in the collectors range for prices. This early 19th century pair of Restauration mahogany chairs would work in Bill's apartment nicely without totally breaking the bank. They are Lot 363 and have an auction estimate of $3,000 - $5,000

Bonhams has an evocatively named auction coming up November 16th in NY - The Gentleman's Library. Doesn't that just speak to the Bill Blass stye! You will notice in the last photo that Bill loved architectural models, and the Bonhams auction includes a lot with two of them. How perfect. These are Lot 2010, made of mahogany with an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

You will also notice globes as decoration in Bill's apartment. This armillary has the classical style, and might be even more decorative! This is in the Bonhams auction, Lot 2018 with an auction estimate of $600 - $800. It measures 22 1/2 inches tall.

Bill Blass had a pair of lovely Regency chaise longue in his living room. Similar ones can often be found at auction. This one was sold at a Bonhams auction for $1,500.

The Bill Blass style is classic, clean and modern in feel.  His look can be recreated at auction from the furniture to the decorative details, and the thrill of the hunt will add to the fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scandinavian Design 'at auction'

Modern design seems to have practically started in Scandinavia. The cool lines of furniture by Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner, for example, are iconic, and copied over and over.

Skonahem Magazine (Sweden)

In this dining room, the sideboard is by Børge Mogensen, the chairs by Arne Jacobsen, and the rug was designed by Märta ­Måås-Fjetterströms. 

The ceiling fixture in the dining room above is by Poul Henningsen. It is reproduced (and copied) all the time. You can see why, because it gives a space a modern edge, but could be used with a more traditional look. The dining table is by the Danish designer Ole Wanscher. 

Elle Decor - Designer: Michael DePerno

In a California house designed by Michael DePerno, the living room includes these wonderful yellow Danish arm chairs. They fit with the mid-century vibe and add the pop of color to contrast with the white and beige sofas. 

Wright Auctions in Chicago has their Scandinavia Design auction coming up November 17th. It is full of iconic designers that could satisfy your desire to re-create the look!

My focus in the Wright on-line catalogue is on decorating a living room. If we start with a sofa this one designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1956 is perfect (Lot 207). It measures 71 inches wide, and is made of a bronze plated steel  frame and leather upholstery. This has an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000. This exudes mid-century cool.

I love these chairs designed by Finn Juhl (Danish) in 1953. These are model NV-53, and are made of teak with uphostery. The have a comfortable  design, and are just plain fabulous! These are Lot 192, and have an auction estimate of $7,000 - $9,000.

This pair of Ole Wanscher (Danish) arm chairs were designed in 1944. They are made of lacquered beech and birch. The curves of the back slats are what make the design. They are very decorative and almost sculptural. These are Lot  101 and have an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000.

For me the Arne Jacobsen Swan chair is one of the most iconic of the mid-century designs. It was designed in 1957. This example in the Wright auction is particularly good looking because of the warm colored leather upholstery. It also swivels and tilts!  This is Lot 204, and has an estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

We, of course, need a rug. This design by Märta ­Måås-Fjetterströms (Swedish) would be wonderful. It was designed in 1925, and measures 63" x 115". This is Lot 109, and has an auction estimate of $3,000 - $5,000. There are a couple of other rugs by the same designer in the auction. 

You see this design by Poul Henningsen quite a bit. There are new ones available, but wouldn't it be more fun to have an original designed in 1958. This is called model PH5.  I love that this one is blue, which also makes it stand out from the crowd. This is Lot 284, and has an auction estimate of $700 - $900. 

Scandinavian design is quite the rage right now. You needn't go for a full Mad Men mid-century look. Just add an iconic design like an Arne Jacobsen chair, or a pair by Ole Wanscher to a room with a classic sofa, and you have instant chic!
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