Thursday, March 31, 2011

Time to decorate the garden!

Depending on where you live, sprucing up the garden is on your mind. Here in the Northeast, the temperature hasn't quite made it to Spring levels, but the early flowers are starting to break through the soil. Adding a decorative element or two will dress up the garden, and auctions have some wonderful offerings.

I love this water feature from House to Home (UK). There is an antique trough that adds character with the wonderful lion fountain attached to a stone wall.

This elegant garden designed by Xa Tollemache, a UK garden designer, uses wonderful urns topping the entry wall. She has made this a beautiful room in which to sit and relax.

In a city garden designed Xa Tollemache, she used trellises to add interest to the walls, much like you might use wall paper, and she added a fabulous obelisk to draw the eye along the garden path.

If we think of our garden as another room, we want to plan our decorating scheme. We might want to include architectural elements, or perhaps some antiques to make it look more established.

A pair of obelisks adds a chic architectural element to any garden, or even an apartment balcony! This smart pair is on offer at the April 9th Garden & Architectural Antiques auction at Kamelot Auctions in Philadelphia, PA (Lot 26). These are made of wrought iron, stand 76" tall and have an auction estimate for the pair of $600 - $1,200. 
A stone trough makes a wonderful water feature or planter. This one is also in the Kamelot Auctions sale (Lot3). It's described as Chinese, and certainly the carving makes it more interesting than most. This is 45" wide and has an auction estimate of $600 - $900.

Seating is important in the garden, and this bench is particularly decorative. It's wrought iron, circa 1900 (Lot 49). I love the red color with the green decor of urns and garlands on the back. This is 47" wide, and has an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.

A pair of urns can be used for plants, or just as decoration. Place them at the entrance to your garden, or at the corners of your patio. This pair of cast iron urns (currently painted white) are included in the next New Orleans Auction April 9th and 10th. These are Lot 463, stand 37" tall,  and have an auction estimate of $600 - $900.

A water feature is always nice in a garden. The sound is so soothing. This patinated metal fountain (37" tall) was sold at a Christie's auction of $938 off an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. Marble ones seem to sell for much more. I think this one is lovely, and would serve as a wonderful center piece for a garden design.

A garden is a room for as long as the weather is warm enough. You will spend even more time in it if it gives you as much pleasure as a well decorated room. I'm not much of a green thumb, but you don't have to be if you have some wonderful decorative elements around which to plant a few flowers or bushes!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Albert Hadley 'at auction'

Albert Hadley is an iconic decorator. His style has lasting appeal, and we have an opportunity to get a piece of his style from Albert Hadley Inc. at two auctions this week: Sotheby's in New York on March 30th, and Stair Galleries in Hudson, NY on April 1st.

 House Beautiful - Designer: Albert Hadley

At the Stair Galleries preview I took a few pictures (not all items are from the Albert Hadley lots) of their well staged offerings. 

The octagonal mirror caught my eye. It's very stylish, and I love the red paint. This is lot 175, and it measures 32.75" x 32.75". The auction estimate is $200 - $400. I suspect that the Hadley provenance will drive the bidding up past the estimates. 

I have always liked a mirror that mimics a window. It's not only chic, but opens up a space that might otherwise be dark and/or lacking in windows. This is Lot 151 in the Stair Galleries auction, and measures 48" x 29". It has an auction estimate of $200 - $400.

In the photo at the top of the page notice the sconces on either side of the mirror above the mantle. The ones on the left are included in the Sotheby's auction, Lot 663. They are not identical, but a close comparison. They are highly decorative and would look great used as in the photo, or I might like them in an entryway. These measure 26" tall and have an auction estimate of $200 - $300. 

This black lacquered fauteuil shouts Art Deco, even though it's modern. It's a smart design, and would be a chic addition to a living room, or as seating in the bedroom. This is Lot 658 in the Sotheby's sale, and has an auction estimate of $200 - $300.

Notice how Hadley used the screen in the second photo at the top. It adds interest to the room, and draws your eye to the corner. The one here on the left is Lot 659, and also has an Art Deco vibe. It measures 53" tall x 60" long. It has an auction estimate of $200 - $300.

This steel chain link screen is surprisingly modern for what I think of for Albert Hadley. He can obviously surprise. This would be a fabulous addition to a contemporary style, or to mix up traditional with a bit of modern. This is Lot 655 in the Sotheby's sale. The description says it's 35.5" tall. It would make a great room divider since it's not too tall. The auction estimate if $100 - $200.

Albert Hadley designs are all about the details. Pick up one or two at the upcoming auctions and add some Hadley chic to your decor!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Make use of those corners!

Sometimes a corner just looks bare, and other times we may have limited space and need to put corners to good use. There are cupboards and chairs designed just for that purpose!

A corner cupboard that hangs on the wall is the ultimate space saver. It take up not room on the floor, and usually looks great too! This wonderful chinoiserie decorated cupboard sold a Stair Galleries auction in Hudson, NY recently. It's described as a George III black japanned bowfront cupboard, and stands 36" tall. It sold for $800 off an auction estimate of $1,200 - $1,800. 
This example has a more rustic look, and is being offered in the April 9th and 10th auction at New Orleans Auction. This is lot 58, and is described as an English oak hanging ecclesiastical cupboard, 3rd quarter 19th century. It's 30" tall, and has an auction estimate of $125 - $250.

For something that sits on the floor, there are small and large versions.  I like this English of American 19th century mahogany washstand that sold at Christie's in New York for only $125 off an auction estimate of $500 - $700. They did note that it had a replaced rear leg. This is just a lovely piece and would look great with a vase with flowers on top to liven up a dull corner.

This Continental neoclassical fruitwood and burlwood corner table with a marble top is offered in the next Stair Galleries auction in Hudson, NY on April 1st. It stands 39.5" tall, and has an auction estimate of $700 - $900. It's Lot 42. This is also a very pretty design with nice detail in the wood.

This is a much more substantial corner cupboard. Think lots of storage! It's quite decorative as well. This sold at a Christie's auction for $813 off an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,000. It's described as 19th century English walnut, and stands 86.5" tall.

If you have two corners and are looking for a more formal French design, this pair of Napolean III style kingwood, burl and marble top corner tables offer lots of style and storage! These are Lot 1019 in the next New Orleans auction, and have an auction estimate of $1,200 - $1,800.

A discussion of corners would not be complete without corner chairs. I found this unusual mahogany George III design a real talking piece. This is 3rd quarter 18th century, and sold at a Cristie's auction for $1,000 off an auction estimate of $500 - $700. The head rest makes this quite special. A corner chair is great because it can be tucked away and brought in to service when that extra chair is needed.

Bonhams had this wonderful classic corner chair in a past auction, which sold for $976. It's also a George III, but painted and carved walnut. It's 3rd quarter 18th century.

Don't let those corners go to waste. Fill them with a piece of furniture meant for just that space.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Indulgent dressing tables

You might think that a dressing table is an indulgence only for those with tons of square footage in their houses and big bedrooms. Dressing tables by their very name are usually feminine, originally meant as a place to put on your makeup and jewels (think Downton Abbey!). They can, in fact, be wonderful desks and well suited to the multi-purpose bedroom.

Elle Decor - Designer: Suzanne Coleman Bancroft

I like the idea of getting out of bed in the morning, making some coffee, and sitting down at a lovely mirrored Venetian dressing table like this to scan the paper on my computer.  

This Suzanne Kasler design has a more modern dressing table with clean lines. Always place a lovely lamp, a few photos, and of course some flowers!

 At auction, if we start with some mirrored examples, this Art Deco style mirrored dressing table sold at a Doyle New York auction for $1,500 off an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,500. It's a more substantial shape, and 54" wide.

This more diminutive French mirrored dressing table (circa 1950) would fit in even a smaller bedroom. It's 36" wide, and sold at a Christie's auction in New York for $563 off an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,000. It's quite cute, and you might put a clear acrylic chair with it like the one in the top photo. Don't forget the photos and flowers as well!

Many dressing tables will come with an incorporated mirror for putting on your jewels and make up! I like this Art Deco style fruitwood table. It has lovely details. It measures 37" wide, and sold at a Doyle New York auction for $563 off an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.

This is a fabulous Art Deco style version. This is Paul T Frankl designed, circa 1930, and sold at a Christie's auction for $2,500 off an auction estimate of $3,000 - $5,000. It's painted wood, mirrored glass and bakelite. I think it's gorgeous!

If you have a more traditional leaning, there are many options in 18th and 19th century dressing tables. This is coming up in a Bonhams sale in new York April 13th. This is Lot 2317, and is described as a Queen Anne inlaid walnut dressing table first quarter 18th century. It's quite small at 31" wide, and would fit anywhere. It' has an auction estimate of $2,500 - $3,500. 

This table is included in a Christie's Interiors sale 5 - 6 April in New York. This is Lot 689, and is described as a late 18th century George III dressing table. It is 24" wide, and has an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

There are lots of dressing table styles to add to your bedroom, and to dress up with photos, a small lamp, and a very discreet laptop. Wake up in the morning and indulge yourself!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The more mirrors the merrier!

I ran across this picture in Skona Hem, a Swedish magazine. I love the creative use of mirrors. You can have a lot of fun designing a wall like this, and auctions are great places to find the unique or unusual mirrors to create this look.

Let's assemble this look at auction.

If we start with a couple of sunburst mirrors, these two are terrific examples. They were sold at the last St. Charles Gallery auction in New Orleans. They are both 22.5" in diameter, and this first one is described as Spanish Colonial in an 18th century style from the 2nd quarter of the 20th century. It's carved giltwood, and sold for $461. It's lovely and decorative.

This mirror is described as Italian carved and giltwood in a Directoire style. It's also 2nd quarter 20th century. It sold for $553. These two mirrors would be a chic beginning of our design.

The mirrors in the Skona Hem bathroom all have quite elaborate frames. The challenge in looking through auction results was finding some examples that wouldn't break the bank. I love this exuberant Italian neoclassical mirror. It's 19th century and measures 43" tall including it's great frame. It sold at a Bonhams auction for $1,586.

Pair of mirrors could work quite well in our design. This Italian late 18th century/early 19th century pair are wonderful. They measure just 25" tall and sold at a Christie's auction for $1,375, which was within their estimate range of $1,000 - $1,500.

This set of similar Italian mirrors are a good resemblance to the mirrors in our Skona Hem photo. They have that wonderful rococo style flamboyance. The largest of the two measures 40" tall, and they are described as '19th century and later'. Not sure what that means in terms of dating, which may explain the bargain price they went for of $625 off an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000.

One of the fun things about decorating with mirrors is that you can collect them over time, and be opportunistic in your selection. They don't even need to serve as looking glasses when displayed like this one a wall. Enliven a bathroom's decor, create an artistic design on a wall in your living room, or brighten up a long hallway.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Asia Week - Opportunities for Auction Decorating!

Asia Week in New York is 18 - 26 March. New York will be full of gallery exhibits, museum shows, and auctions around the theme of Asian art.

This gets me inspired. There is something very sophisticated and calming about a scene with a wonderful Asian style painting on a gold ground, and a buddha head as you enter a home.

Two photos: Designer Madeline Stuart

These two rooms designed by Madeline Stuart each incorporate several Asian elements: the silk panel, chest of drawers, and the seated buddha in the bedroom; the living room with Asian inspired wall paper, the Tang dynasty horse on the mantel, and the classic porcelain jar on the etagere.

With all the auctions coming up, there are lots of opportunities to add Asian elements to your decor.

Doyle New York has their Asian auction March 21st. It includes this lovely hanging silk scroll (Lot 13). The gold ground makes this pop on a wall, and the size (48" x 19") will make a statement as in the top photo.
Add to the scene one of these bronze Khmer heads. These are Lot 18 in the Doyle auction. They are described as 19th century or earlier, and the tallest is 10.5". They have an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. I like that there are two, because that multiplies the design options!
Chinese silk robes make great wall decoration. They are big and graphic. Think about the smaller of the two here (Doyle Lot 204) in your entry, and the larger one on the wall behind your bed. These have an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. The Doyle auction includes quite a few lots comprising of textiles and robes, so this is a good opportunity to pick something up with gorgeous vibrant colors that will stand out in a room.
Bonhams San Francisco also caught the Asia Week fever and has an Asian Decorative Arts auction March 15th. It is chock full of beautiful Asian items. This Chinese Qing Dynasty (18th/19th century) altar table is a perfect entryway table. It has such wonderful decorative details. It's Lot 2266, measures 86.25" long and 16" deep, and has an auction estimate of $3,000 - $5,000. 
Top the altar table with these two beautifully simple porcelain vases. I love the 'sky' blue color, and the animals crawling around the top. It's a nice break from the classic blue and white. These are included in the Bonhams auction (Lot 2317), and are 7" tall. They are from the Chinese Republic Period (1911 - 1949), and have an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.
I love this style cabinet. It is so modern looking - simple with subtle decorative details. This is described as a Ming style huali double door cabinet from the first half of the 20th century. It is Lot 2275 in the Bonhams sale, and has an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200 and is 75" tall. This would make a great cabinet in the living room (maybe to hide the TV), or even as extra closet space if you fit it out for that. Top it with a collection of porcelain vases for great display!
You can never go wrong adding Asian elements to your decor. This week offers lots of choice at auction across the country.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rocking rockers

A while ago I wrote a blog 'Are you off your rocker - a cool rocking chair?'. I've since learned the error of my ways! There are lots of cool rocking chairs with a very modern vibe. These are not your grandmother's rockers.

Here are just two examples of how you might include a cool rocking chair in a modern design setting. Both photos are from the Swedish magazine, Skona Hem, which is full of cool modern homes. The rocking chair in the top photo is a bit more traditional looking, while the Eames chair in the bottom photo has all the modern credentials!

This Ib Kofod-Larsen rocking chair has all the cool of the Eames chair in my opinion, but sold for $450 at a Wright auction in Chicago, off an auction estimate of $200 - $300. I love the simple design in birch and iron with an upholstered seat. This is Danish circa 1950.

Here is just one example of a Charles and Ray Eames rocking chair that sold at a Christie's auction for $3,325 off an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,000. These are highly desirable, and the price at auction will no doubt depend on who's bidding on the day and the condition. I've seen them go for less and more.

I love this Fritz Henningsen rocking chair, circa 1930's. It's a very comfy looking rocker, with wonderful modern appeal. Fritz Henningsen is highly collectible, and adds instant modern credentials to your decor. This sold for $8,750 at a Sotheby's auction off an auction estimate of $10,000 - $15,000.

Gae Aulenti is another highly desirable Italian designer. The curves on this 'Scarsgul' chair designed in 1962 add so much interest to the chair. It becomes a work of art in a room, but looks comfortable too! It's made of laminated and ebonized wood with leather upholstery, and sold at a Christie's auction for $1,500 off an estimate of $2,000 - $2,500.

For something a bit more affordable, but not lacking in great design, this chrome and faux leather rocker sold at a Bonhams auction for $488. It's described as 3rd quarter 20th century. The design of the rocker legs make it. Looks inspired by a Thonet.

For another bargain, this beechwood and cane rocker sold at a Christie's auction for $313 off an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. It's described as probably Societa Anonima Antonio Volpe, 1914. I've seen these go for more, so perhaps the uncertainty of the provenance made this the bargain that it is. This is very Thonet inspired at a fraction of the price.

Getting back to some high design rockers with price tags to match, I picked two from Wright Auctions in Chicago. This Vladimir Kagan, circa 1965, is a very cool design. The walnut rocker legs are a wonderful design element. The upholstery is embroidered, which I find interesting, but may have contributed to it coming in lower than the auction estimate, and lower than many others I've seen. It sold for $6,250 off an estimate of $7,000 - $9,000.

Finally, I find this nickel plated steel and acrylic rocker to be more work of art than practical. It has great style and is fabulous to look at. It was designed by Charles Hollis Jones in 1975, and sold at a Wright auction for $4,375 off an auction estimate of $5,000 - $7,000.

Rocking chairs can be very modern cool. Pick one with lots of curves, or with simple lines like the Eames version. They are fun design elements, and rocking while reading a good book can be very calming.

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