Friday, April 29, 2011

Mixing modern and antique for a fresh look

We went to the inaugural Spring Antique Show of the Art and Antique Dealers League of America at the Park Avenue Armory in New York (on through May 2nd). I was struck by the different feeling in the booth decoration created by the juxtaposition of modern art and antiques.

I loved this booth for it's mix of periods, and the big abstract paintings that give it all a modern fresh look. The Biedermeier chairs in the bottom photo have such wonderful curves.

This antique dresser looks better for the addition of the abstract painting above it. It made me stop to look at the furniture and appreciate the details. I'm not sure I would have spent the time I did if the painting hadn't grabbed my attention.

Mixing modern and antique makes both better!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Modern details - decorative and practical too!

Decorating is often in the details. You can have an IKEA bookshelf or table, but if it's topped with wonderful objects no one will ever notice.

 Elle Decor - Designer: Kara Mann

In this library, the shelves are a wonderful mix of decorative objects and books.  The room is otherwise simply furnished, but your eye is drawn to all the interesting pieces placed at different levels among the books.

Elle Decor - Designer: Fern Simon

This home office is all about the decorative details. The simple shelving has a wonderful collection of  pots and vases, along with the books, making an interesting tableau.

The next Wright auction in Chicago on 28 April - 'Living Contemporary' -  is my inspiration today because it's full of fabulous modern objects that would be chic decoration, but can be put to work as well. 

Bookshelves should always include some decoration along with the books. These bookends would be incredibly stylish on the bookshelf, or on a table holding up a select group of favorite books. This Art Deco pair were designed by Edgar Brandy (French circa 1926). They are in the shape of pelicans, made of wrought iron, and stand 7" tall. These are Lot 121 in the Wright auction with an estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. 

The auction also includes this really cute pair of squirrel bookends, also of wrought iron. These did not have a designer noted, but are also French circa 1920. These are Lot 254 with an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

I get lots of shelter magazines every month. I like a nice magazine stand (or two) to hold them stylishly until I'm ready to recycle them. This Art Deco (circa 1925) painted circular magazine stand would serve the purpose and be decorative too! This sold at Christie's in New York for $188 off an auction estimate of $300 - $500.

A colorful vase on a bookshelf or table will draw the eye, and add lots of interest. On a gray day in the Spring,  add flowers and your mood will pick right up! This vase was designed by Guido Gambone (Italian, circa 1960), stands 9" tall, and is made of glazed stoneware. It sold at a Wright auction for $1,500 of an estimate of $1,500 - $2,000.

Horns make striking decoration. This one that sold at a Doyle New York auction has a terrific mounting and could be used as a vase as well. This sold for $188 off an auction estimate of $250 - $450.

Lamps can, of course, be highly decorative as well. This Art Deco alabaster, marble and patinated metal figural console lamp is more sculpture than lamp! What a wonderful object to have on a table or shelf. This sold at a Stair Galleries auction in Hudson, NY  for $225 off an auction estimate of $100 - $200. You wouldn't need to plug it in to have it look great. 

Building a collection of great objects can take place over many years. Just keep your eye out to snap up something really interesting, and build the design on a shelf or table. Each time you add a new piece it will take on a different character and stay fresh.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hall chairs re-visited

I love the design possibilities of the hall chair. They look so good, and you can find lots of ways to use them besides sitting in them.

Canadian House and Home - Designer: Michael Angus

The Toronto based designer, Michael Angus, creates focal point on this stairway landing, including this fabulous hall chair with it's wonderfully carved shaped back. 

 Canadian House and Home

I love this entryway with it's French trumeau mirror and decorative sconces placed over a pair of hall chairs and console table in warm wood. It's a nice contrast of feminine and masculine. Hall chairs in the entryway are a great spot to place the mail when you come in, or throw your hat before putting it away!

The style statement of many hall chairs is usually in the carving of the back.  This pair of early 19th century Regency hall chairs were sold at Christie's in New York for $625 off an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. The back seems to have wings in the carving and an armorial crest in the middle.

This pair of George IV (circa 1820) mahogany hall chairs has a wonderful shaped foliage carved back with a crest of a demi-lion holding a sword. These sold at Christie's for $2,880 off an estimate of $1,500 - $2,500. 

In the top photo, the designer Michael Angus used a hall chair with a fabulously curved back. This George IV mahogany chair is in the same family. The c-scroll back has nice detail in the carving, and a painted oval armorial of an eagle in the center makes this regal! This sold at Bonhams in London for 192 British pounds (about $315). 

The Victorians knew how to take a simple hall chair, and ratchet up the decoration! This pair of Gothic Revival chairs are made of oak and walnut. They have backs carved almost like the entry to a cathedral. These sold at a Doyle New York auction for $500 off an auction estimate of $600 - $900.

Hall chairs can be extra seating (but not very comfortable!), but they are better thought of as decoration or even a table substitute. You might use them in a guest bathroom to pile extra towels, or in a bedroom as a side table. They are stately and subtle in design, and a nice decorative addition to any number of rooms.

Monday, April 18, 2011

X-stools are TOO chic!

I have to revisit X-stools periodically because they are so chic, and auctions have great offerings on a regular basis.

 House Beautiful - Designer: Marshall Watson

Canadian House and Home - Designer: Jonathan Adler

The X-stool can be squeezed in anywhere, and is both decorative in themselves as well as extra seating.

Elle Decor - Designer: J. Randall Powers 

Elle Decor - Designer: Nate Berkus

I love the idea of finding X-form legs that have some interest - maybe a curl in the leg, a rosette detail, or perhaps an interesting material. 

This is a classic X-stool shape. This was sold at Christie's in New York. It was described as an Italian neoclassical walnut curule stool made in the early 19th century. The seat is covered in leather which adds a masculine feel. This stool would be great in a study or family room. This sold for $563 off an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.
These are very smart looking! The legs have added interest, and I wouldn't change a thing about the green velvet upholstery. These are 20th century, and made of cream painted with parcel gilt decoration on the legs. These sold at a Christie's auction for $1,875 off an estimate of $3,000 - $5,000.

Adding a touch of faux animal upholstery to your decor is very chic, and these stools would be terrific. These sold at a Doyle New York. They are described as black lacquer Empire style with faux leopard. They also have nice brass detailing at the X and on the feet. These sold for $3,125 off an estimate of $800 - $1,200.

For something with a modern vibe I like these gilt metal X stools with the brown suede seats. These also sold at Doyle New York. They had an auction estimate of $500 - $700, but sold for $1,625.

 I always like to check out Wright auction in Chicago for modern pieces. These X stools are by Osten Kristiansson (Denmark, circa 1970). They are made of leather, oak, and brass. They sold for $1,875 off an auction estimate of $3,000 - $5,000. For space savers, these fold up, so they are stylish and extra practical as well!

The subtle detailing in the shape of the legs gives this more interest. This also sold at a Wright auction. The designer was Poul Hundevad (Denmark, circa 1950), and it is made of teak and leather.  These sold at one of Wright's Mass Modern auctions for $563 off an estimate of $300 - $500.
So whether modern or classic,  X stools are always a chic addition to almost any room. They serve as extra seating in the living room, or a pair at the end of the bed make a great place to sit down to put on your socks. They can be a design statement too, so pick a style that has that little extra interest in the materials or the shape.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting inspired at an auction preview - modern

I went to the Doyle@Home auction preview in New York, and founds lots to be inspired by in the furniture as well as the staging they did. There were quite a number of pieces designed by and/or from the collection of designer Larry Laslo. The auction took place April 12th, and here are some of the items and the results.

I love the white table against the huge blue painting.  The buffet table was designed by Tommi Parzinger, circa 1960's, and is made of white lacquered and stained wood, with brass and glass details. It had an auction estimate of $4,000 - $6,000, and was in the collection of designer Larry Laslo. It sold for $4,063.

The painting is a wonderful way to add impact and color to a room. It was painted by Hunt Slonem  (American, b. 1951), and is dated August 1990. It's a huge 72 x 96 inches, and had an estimate of $6,000 - $8,000. It sold for $7,500.
These chairs are so cool, and if you look closely at the table legs they add lots of fun to the dining scene! The table was designed by Larry Laslo and has a marble top 
bronze-patinated steel base. It had an auction estimate $2,000 - $4,000, and sold for $2,813.

The set of six chairs are 20th century and are made of ebonized wood, with brass detailing on the feet. The simple white upholstery makes the shape stand out. The auction estimate was $800 - $1,200. These sold for $1,063.
This diminutive art deco desk with the shagreen detail would be wonderful if you are looking to squeeze a work area in to your apartment or a small bedroom. It looks good even if you don't use it as a desk. This desk is attributed to Dominique (Andre Domin and Marcel Genevriere) circa 1925. It is made of ivory inlaid rosewood, with shagreen (sharkskin)  front and a sycamore interior. The auction estimate was $10,000 - $15,000. This went unsold, which means it had a reserve on it that wasn't met. It will be back, I bet!
These chairs and side table were designed by Josef Hoffmann circa 1907 for Thonet Mundus, and are made of bentwood and upholstery. The chairs and table are described as being associated, and not a true set. These would work well in a bedroom, or to add extra seating to your living room off on the side or in a corner. The auction estimate was $2,000 - $3,000 and they sold for $3,750.

For some Hollywood regency glamor, a mirrored piece of furniture is the ticket. The mirror's frame is quirky and fun too! The table is described as a 20th century designed mirrored side cabinet from the collection of Larry Laslo. It had an auction estimate of $1,000 - $2,000, and sold for $2,500.

The mirror is also from Larry Laslo's collection. It is an Italian 20th century mirror and had an auction estimate of $1,500 - $2,500.It sold for $2,125.

Elle Decor - Home of Larry Laslo

I ran in to the original table that Laslo based his design on in this Elle Decor photo. This table was a 1937 Gilbert Poillerat.

I love wandering around auction previews to get ideas. These photos all have elements that I like, such as using a big abstract painting as a key design element, and looking for great detailing in furniture such as brass accents, shagreen, and great shapes. We didn't bid on anything, but we got some great inspiration!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Biedermeier style 'at auction'

Biedermeier style is one of the most chic design periods. The period for Biedermeier is 1815 - 1848 in Central Europe. The warm brown wood with the ebonized touches make it work in a modern setting.

Traditional Home - Home of architect Michael Graves
The architect Michael Graves has a home chock full of  Biedermeier furniture.  The chairs in the dining room are circa 1820. They have that beautiful wood characteristic of the style, and wondferful curved backs. So simple but so stylish.  The commode in the bottom photo is circa 1830, and has a very architectural design. The Wiener Werkstatte chair works with it perfectly.

The chair in Graves' study has wonderful curved arms that make the look.

 This set of eight Biedermeier walnut with ebonized side chairs are quite similar to the ones in Michael Graves' dining room. These sold at a Christie's auction in New York for $5,000. They are 1st quarter 19th century.  I would reupholster in a black fabric for the ultimate chic look!

This is a set of eight Biedemeier side chairs coming up in a Bonhams auction in New York April 13th. These are Lot 2189, and are described as inlaid and carved cherrywood side chairs from the 1st quarter of the 19th century. They have an auction estimate of $2,500 - $2,500. These lack the curved back detail, but the carving and the ebonized inlay decoration are exquisite.

I couldn't resist these fabulous cabinets! These were made circa 1820, and are made of ebonized wood, fruitwood and patinated bronze decoration. They sold at a Sotheby's auction for $10,000 off an auction estimate of $10,000 - $15,000. They are quite special.

This lovely side table has all the wonderful chic simplicity we want in Biedermeier. This is a birch and ebonized wood table from the 2nd quarter of the 19th century. It was described by Sotheby's as probably Austrian. It sold for $1,560 off an estimate of $1,200 - $1,800.  The shape is fabulous, and couldn't you see this in a small entryway or in a place of prominence in the living room!

This Biedermeier fruitwood center table stands out because of the wonderful curved legs. The wood is so warm, and the shapes so elegant. This table sold at a Doyle New York auction for $2,000 off an auction estimate of $2,500 - $3,500. 

Sofas of this period are very architectural. This satinbirch example has terrific curved arms, and ebonized wood details. This is being offered in a Bonhams London sale May 10th (Lot 261) with an auction estimate of 800 - 1,200 GBP ($1,300 - $2,000).  Again, I would reupholster in black for a graphic effect. This is a stand out!

Biedermeier combines elegance with great styling. The warm woods, the subtle decoration of curves and ebonized inlays make the style so modern. Michael Graves should know!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Light the garden with lanterns

As Summer approaches we're starting to plan for outdoor dining, and lanterns are perfect lighting. I love candle light at dinner, and lanterns protect them from the wind, and look fabulous as well!

Art et Decoration magazine

When not in use outdoors, why not line a staircase with your lanterns like this one in the French magazine Art et Decoration.  Multiples are always better!
House Beautiful - Designer: Sandy Koepke
Or one beautiful big lantern like this one above set on the table adds decoration as well as light. 
There are, of course, lots of sources for lanterns, but auctions can either afford the unusual, or good value, or both!

Starting with great value, this group of six Moroccan pierced tin lanterns sold at Christie's in New York for  $313! Bargain, and lots of fun.

This is actually a group of ten lanterns which sold at Christie's for $813. 

This grouping of four 19th century lanterns sold for $938 at Christie's. I particularly like the tole painted lantern in the back, but they all look great. The various sizes and styles make for an interesting mix in your outdoor room.

For something more of an investment piece, this lovely Chinese porcelain (Republic Period) lantern is just beautiful. It sold at a Bonhams auction for $2,440.

This very chic patinated metal lantern has a stand, and has an overall height of 76". This would be an imposing piece on a patio of porch. This sold at a Bonhams auction for $1,098.

This modern Art Nouveau style lantern caught my eye. It's quite decorative, and the colored glass would cast a warm candle lit glow. This sold at a Christie's auction for $1,188.

Candles add romantic lighting to your al fresco dining, and lanterns are both a practical and beautiful way to keep the flame from blowing out. Add a single special lantern, or multiples to light a path or the edges of the patio.
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