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.

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