Monday, January 31, 2011

Nouveau Art Nouveau

Of all the blogs I've written in the last year, the one with the most visits is Sensual Art Nouveau. Does this portend something in terms of a style trend? Mid Century Modern has been the most recent design craze, which can be characterized by its simple shapes and clean lines. So what of Art Nouveau with all it's curls and curves?

Room designed by Alphonse Marie Mucha in Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris
Image by © Massimo Listri/CORBIS
Image by albany_tim
Maybe we need a break from straight lines, and long for the kind of curves that you want to touch.

These three lots from the upcoming Bonhams Los Angeles auction February 6th and 7th would nicely decorate an Art Nouveau living room. On the left is a four piece walnut salon set after a design by Louis Majorelle. This is Lot 7465, and has an auction estimate of $2,500 - $3,500.  The carving and wonderful shapes scream Art Nouveau.

For some architectural interest in your Art Nouveau living room, add this pair of gilt bronze mounted mahogany pedestals. They are Lot 7141 in the Bonhams sale, and stand 51.5" tall. They have an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. Place these on either side the settee and put two Galle vases on top and you have a wonderful display! The swan heads and curvy decorative detail are wonderful.

Every living room needs a magazine rack and this one is so cute. This is Lot 7383 in the Bonhams sale, and has an auction estimate of $150 - $250. It is described as painted wrought metal, and stands18.75" tall. The swirly painted details and bees make this a wonderful Art Nouveau decoration.

If your living or dining room is big enough, this French carved mahogany buffet is a beautiful example of Art Nouveau. This is Lot 468 in the Doyle New York 'Belle Epoque' sale  February 9th. It is attributed to Louis Majorelle, and has an auction estimte of $6,000 - $8,000. It stands 7' tall and is 5'10" wide. The detail in the wood grain, and the lovely decorative details make this a very handsome piece.

Our living room needs a mantel clock and this gorgeous gilt metal example is Lot 548 in the next Christie's New York 'Interiors' sale February 8th sand 9th. Look closely at the woman's face carved just below the dial. The design seems almost liquid as it pours on to your table top. The clock stands 15.25" tall, and has an auction estimate of $2,000 - $3,000.

For the real thing, this Louis Majorelle circa 1900 rosewood and gilt metal writing desk sold at a Sotheby's auction in New York for $10,000 (including buyers premium). It had an auction estimate of $9,000 - $12,000. It's just perfect! Almost no design element is left without a curve.

I'm not sure if we have a trend towards Art Nouveau in decorating, but styles have been known to swing in popularity from straight lines to curves, and simple to ornate over time, and back again. One of the wonderful things about Art Nouveau style is that it avoids the ornate, and just focuses on the organic and sensual design details. Maybe it's just what you need to break up the straight lines in your modernist decor.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obelisks add instant chic!

Decorative obelisks are so simple, but add SO much chic to your decor instantly. They are architectural, and can be made of materials that add even more interest.

Veranda - Designer: Miles Redd

One obelisk, or even better a pair, just set down on a table, or placed on a mantle immediately dress it up. They work in traditional decor, and are very modern at the same time. The materials can make the difference. Think of a rock crystal column in a cool white space, or an elaborately mounted marble in a more traditional setting. 

One of the best ways to start before bidding for your obelisk at auction is to do some research on past auction sales. This way you'll have an idea of prices and offerings. Christie's has a great database which is easy to search (not all of them are). I found these two examples. The first is the pair of rock crystal obelisks on the left. They stand 17.5" tall and sold for $1,188. They are 20th century and would be so smart in a sleek decor. 

On the right, this pair of 19th century Northern European faux porphyry marble and painted marble obelisks are a more traditional choice. They stand 18.25" tall and sold for $1,625 off an auction estimate of $2,500 - $3,500. 

There are lots of examples that are less, and some very much more.

This pair of French gilt brass mounted cut glass obelisks caught my eye for their modern design. These are Lot 383 at the next New Orleans auction January 29th and 30th. They stand 21" tall and have an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.

The sister auction house in New Orleans, St. Charles Gallery, sold these French marble obelisks for $492. I think these are a bit chunkier in design, but I like the simplicity of a single material, which in this case is a very interesting brown marble. And they were affordable too!

At the next Doyle New York 'Belle Epoque' auction being held February 9th this single neoclassical style rock crystal obelisk is on offer with an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. It's 22.5" tall and is Lot 400.

This single obelisk is more elaborate than some of my previous examples. This is Lot 635 at the next Christie's New York 'Interiors' sale being held February 8th and 9th. It is described as an either English of French, late19th century gilt bronze mounted specimen marble obelisk. It's 16" tall and has an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200. It has very smart decorative detail on the base, and would dress up any shelf, table or mantle.

On this dining able designed by Suzanne Kasler, the addition of a pair of clear crystal obelisks makes for instant chic decoration. Find a few at auction and move them around your home to give whatever space they are in the perfect updated look.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Design Inspirations: Winter Antiques Show, New York

The Winter Antiques Show is going on in New York now through January 30th. We visited the show this last weekend, and as always enjoy looking at what for us is mostly 'a museum with price tags'. The displays are full of inspiration, and get me thinking about what one could find at auction that is a close approximation.

In the 'Designing with Antiques' display at the show, decorators designed a room using antiques. This bedroom display features a wonderful art deco dresser, as well as a garden bench at the foot of the bed. This reminds me of my last post Bringing the garden inside in style!

I was quite interested in this tramp art cabinet. Tramp art is not something that's been on my radar, but I did bid on a tramp art mirror at the last Copake Auction. This cabinet is late 19th century and had a price tag of over $500,000!! Something worth learning more about in case I see a tramp art item at a future auction.

I loved this tramp art frame that was offered at the New Year's Day Copake auction in Copake, NY. I bid and lost. It was 49" tall, and had an auction estimate of $50 - $100,. It sold for $400. 

This tramp art frame was also in the same auction with an auction estimate of $50 - $75. It measured 17" x 21" and sold for $120.

Back to the Winter Antiques Show, this rustic multi-drawer cabinet was in one of the dealer booths. I love it's simplicity, and pale blue paint. Hanging it on the wall like this made it a work of art, and the addition of the doll was a cute touch!

This 19th century apothecary with it's original paint is a very close cousin to the one at the Antiques show. This measures 60" x 26", and sold at the Copake auction for $2,000, off an auction estimate of $700 - $1,000. Clearly someone had the creative vision to make this great display piece like the dealer at the show.

Add to the tableau a wonderful horse painting, and we have a similar display. This painting by J. William Johnson, 1905, sold at a Doyle @ Home auction for $313.

Going to antique fairs make for fun outings, and are a great way to get inspiration and education. Check the price tags and engage the dealers. Next time you see something offered at auction you'll have a better idea of how the piece might fit in your home and how much to bid.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bringing the garden inside in style!

Why limit 'garden ornaments' to the garden? For me, they bring a little Spring inside, and can be very chic decoration.

 House Beautiful - Designer: Markham Roberts

In this library designed by Markham Roberts note the porcelain garden seats used as side tables by the chairs.

Chinese or Japanese porcelain garden seats always seemed very impractical to me for the garden. They look like they could break too easily outside, but inside, they're perfect. This gorgeous Kuang Hsu porcelain child's garden seat has lovely decoration. It's included in the next St. Charles Gallery auction January 22nd and 23rd in New Orleans. This is Lot 652, is 11.75" tall and has an auction estimate of $50 - $80. It's 1st quarter 20th century. It would be a wonderful little side table or decoration under table.

This pair of Japanese Imari garden seats takes the quality up a notch. The blue, red and white design is very smart, and pairs are always more usable. These are in the next New Orleans Auction January 29th and 30th, Lot 185. They are described as 20th century, 20.25" tall, and have an auction estimate of $2,500 - $4,000.

Blue and white porcelain decoration is so classic! Who doesn't love a blue and white interior, and these would be perfect additions. This pair of 19th century Japanese garden seats are 16" tall, and are included in the February 8th and 9th auction at Christie's New York, Lot 688. They have an auction estimate of $700 - $900.

I couldn't resist this fabulous jardiniere also in the Christie's sale, Lot 850. The figures look so Art Deco to me, although the description doesn't say when it was made. This is made of patinated metal and marble, and would make a terrific decorative stand, or even a place for a plant! This is 36.5" tall, and has an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

This pair of smart metal garden trellises would serve as terrific architectural column-like decoration. I could see them flanking a sofa, or delineating two parts of a large room. Another idea might be to wire them with lights hanging on the inside - very cool! These sold at a Doyle New York  for $813.

An armillary sundial is terribly decorative as a sculpture on a table or bookshelf. I love this example because of the overall design and the cute figure holding it up. It stands 31" tall. This also sold at a Doyle New York auction last year for $1,063.

Bring in a little bit of the garden before Spring arrives! Auctions will very often have garden ornaments on offer, and you can find creative ways to bring them inside to make chic additions to your decor.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bring on the sun(burst mirrors)!

It's about this time of year that I am tiring of winter, and long for the warmth of Spring. It seems a long way away. We can't change the course of the sun, but we can bring a little sunshine into our homes.

Micasa magazine, Spain

These photos from Micasa magazine and retailer Mecox Gardens illustrate a few ways to use wonderful sunburst mirrors in your home. They have been around a long time, and for good reason. They make you smile when you see them in a room. 

This exuberant Italian 18th century sunburst mirror is fantastic! It sold at Christie's of $5,640. But there are more modern versions available at auction to be had at for less.

This lovely giltwood mirror sold at a Bonhams Los Angeles auction for $671. It's 37" in diameter. It's big enough to make a statement over a console table in your entryway, and would it make you lighten up after walking in from a gray day!

This is a cute small sunburst mirror at 13" in diameter. Find a little nook or cranny in your home that needs a focal point to draw the eye, and this bit of sun could do the trick. This sold for $122.

Another gorgeous example from Christie's. This Italian giltwood mirror is a real statement at 79.5" tall. This is 20th century  and sold for $3,346.

This modern version is coming up in the next Christie's Interiors sale February 8th and 9th in New York. This is Lot 918, is decribed as late 20th century, and has an auction estimate of $600 - $800. It's gilt and patinated metal, and is 44.5" in diameter. 

I love that this offering from New Orleans Auction is a pair. Pairs are always better than one! These would look fabulous on either side of a mantle, or behind a sofa flanking a beautiful work of art. Lot 302 is a pair of Italian carved giltwood mirrors from the 2nd quarter of the 20th century. The are 26.5" in diameter, are included in the January 29th and 30th  auction, and have an estimate of $800 - $1,200.

This is a cool modern design of a sunburst. This is a large 52" in diameter, is made of gilt metal, and has an auction estimate of $900 - $1,200 in the same New Orleans Auction (lot 531).

One word of auction advice: when buying anything at auction that is of more recent manufacture, check the retail websites and make sure that your bid doesn't exceed what it might cost to buy it at retail. 

Sunburst mirrors are works of art that bring a smile to your decor! Collect them, and create a wall of sun like the photo from Mecox Gardens. Or create one of your own like in the bedroom photo from Micasa. Lots of creative decorating options, and auctions can be a good source to start! Have fun.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The art of display

The display of our collections, objects and art adds a critical layer of character to our homes. It tells the world our interests and passions. It may reflect the places we've been with things bought while visiting. I know when I look at pieces that we've bought on holiday, I not only enjoy the piece itself, but remember the whole process of buying it. It takes me back.

In the top photo from Living Etc magazine, the shelf on either side of the fireplace displays books arranged this way and that to give an almost geometric pattern.

In the bottom photo, the white space of this loft gets it character from the collection of Asian birdcages on top of the decorated Chinese cabinets, and if you look to the left you can see a ladder used for display of books.

I thought I'd see what I could find at auction for interesting display that might be decorative in and of it self. 

This Louis XVI style giltwood easel is a very stylish display piece. It's decorative in and of itself, while it would be perfect for showing a modern or traditional painting. This would be great in a space with lots of windows that might lack in wall space.  This is included in the next New Orleans Auction January 29t and 30th. It's Lot 137 and has an auction estimate of $400 - $700.

I love open etagere for displaying objects. I think they're more flexible than bookshelves, and need not stand against a wall. This one is a lovely shape with the grading of the shelves, and has a wonderful mahogany wood color. This is also included in the New Orleans auction, and has an auction estimate of $400 - $700. It's Lot 16, and is 55.5" tall.

These English mahogany circular bookshelves are very chic. They serve as display of books or other objects in the shelves and more space for things on top! They would also make great end tables. These are included in the next Christie's Interiors sale in New York February 8th and 9th. They are Lot 587 and have an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

Bedsteps make excellent display pieces. This is a Victorian mahogany example in the same Christie's Interiors sale. The wood patina is beautiful, and the leather steps add more interest. This is Lot 457 and has an auction estimate of $800 - $1,200.

I see these wonderful French brass and wrought iron baker's racks show up at auction periodically. The attention to decoration in what is a utilitarian display rack is beautiful. Look at the curves and the wheat sheaves detail. This is such a wonderful alternative to an ordinary bookshelf. This is included in the Bonham's  sale January 23rd and 24th in San Francisco. It's Lot 2322, 94" tall,and has an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500.

The Bonham's Los Angeles sale January 16th includes this cool Art Deco style walnut side cabinet. This is Lot 7383 and has an auction estimate of $700 - $900. I love the curved shelves on each side. These make perfect display and jazzes up the cabinet.

Think about the display of your collections as an art in itself. What a wonderful opportunity to find a beautiful and interesting piece to enhance the presentation of your passions.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Taking your shoes off: Entryway benches

We're building a house in Upstate New York. We're close to moving in and I'm in the throes of planning each room. The entryway, of course, sets the first impression, and needs to be welcoming. The house is a very modern design, and so far I've found a wonderful Art Deco inspired console table to set the tone, but I will need a bench.

It can be very muddy and snows a lot! People visiting will need a place to take off their boots. A bench needs to be able to withstand wet clothes, and thus can't be too precious. I'm on the hunt for something at auction.

In these photos from Canadian House and Home, the inclusion of a rustic bench in these entryways doesn't sacrifice style. I like both these benches because one wouldn't hesitate to sit down on them with a wet coat, and remove those muddy boots.

In these Homes and Gardens Magazine photos, in the top one I like the use of hall chairs as an option. They're wood, sturdy and stylish. The bottom photo shows a wonderful old bench that is smart, but doesn't look too precious.

These are two great options for an entryway. These were both sold at past Brunk auctions. The example in the top photo sold for $275. The catalogue said that it was possibly constructed from an old bed. I love the wood color and the shape. 
The Chinese bench in the bottom photo is another chic option. I always love adding Asian pieces and these Chinese benches are generally not too difficult to find at auction if you keep your eye out. This one sold for $300. 

This bench would have been perfect for my entryway! Sorry I missed it. It's an Art Deco style painted bench, and sold at a Doyle New York auction for $375.

For that mid-century vibe, this walnut bench is a cool example. It was designed by Greta Magnusson Grossman, circa 1954. It has clean lines with added interest in the way the legs are constructed. This sold at a Wright auction for $570 off an auction estimate of $1,000 - $1,500. 

This is a funky option. This is included in next month's Christie's Interiors sale. It's described as a Late Victorian oak hall bench, and has an auction estimate of $600 - $900. The carving makes it really interesting, and just a little over the top. Leave it to the Victorians to be ornate! This one is a bit smaller than the other examples (39.5" wide), and would be great if your entryway has less space. 

You don't need to sacrifice style when furnishing your entryway with a utilitarian bench to sit on and take your shoes off!

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