Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Isabell's Beautiful Gustavian Chair

I get the most wonderful emails from people all over the world about Willow Decor. One of the most recent was from Isabell in Norway, (but moving to Sweden). Please read her wonderful note and photograph, which she has allowed me to share with all you.

Hello ”Willlow Decor” !

My name is Isabell, a frequent reader of your lovely blog and I wanted to thank you, because by you I came in contact with lovely Kymberley Fraser. A while ago you made a post about her, and you showed pictures of some of 3 Fine Grains sacks. I have this great passion about sacks, so seeing them made my heart jump….. I contacted her and bought the one you see, which now is on my Gustavian chair…..the furniture upholsterer in Stockholm thought the old chair and the sack made a good marriage. So do we……………..

Your last post was wonderful, the furniture you have is really pieces to love. So beautifully done, and so nice they look in your home. Of course the cushions from Kym , just love the as well………….

Isn`t it fantastic how mutual interest have no boundaries, no borders, by your post I read, I came in contact with Kymberley, she sent me the sack to Scandinavia, (Norway), I sent the sack to Sweden, and now I am about to move back to Sweden living and loving among many other things our chair………the world seem smaller in a way……………………

Once again thank you !

Kind regards


The reach and power of the Internet continues to amaze me. I am so grateful to be able to find so many other lovers of fine antiques and home decor world wide. I know you will agree that Isabell's Gustavian Chair is exquisite! Fabulous job, Isabell and thank you so much for sharing!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Those White and Cream Cow Hide Rugs

Suzanne Kasler
I am really enamored with white/cream cow hide rugs. They seem to add another layer of richness and beauty to so many different style interiors. Here is a lovely room designed by the wonderful Suzanne Kasler. Southern Accents
I especially love cow hide rugs over sisal or seagrass. In this room the rug seems to compliment all furnishings; notice the side table and Ghost chair. Jan Showers
The combination of the natural floor covering and the sumptuousness of the cow hide really speaks to me.
Cote de Texas
I think they add a luxurious layer of texture and interest to room. Here is the wonderful bedroom of Sally Wheat, brought to us by Joni of Cote de Texas. You can read all about the rest of Sally's house here. Cote de Texas
Sally renovated the many rooms including the living room. Here is the photo from the cover of Houston House and Home. You can read all about her more recent renovation here.
Material Girls
Here the fabulous Jan Showers layers the cow hide over white rug. It adds a layer of richness to this room. Veranda
Though not quite cream, I wanted to include Vincent Wolfe's gorgeous room. Here the cow hide is layered over a lighter rug and creates a luxurious effect.
=The cow hides seem to work in many different decors. Here it looks fabulous in this more masculine and modern room.
Of course in more modern interiors, like this bedroom the cow hide softens the hard edges of the furniture and the space.
Kim Christie
They also look beautiful laying on a hardwood floor - In this room I love the mix of the hard lines of the mirrors and coffee tables with the softness of linen sofa, throw and cow hide rug.
I find the cowhide rug a more interesting choice than the traditional needlepoint or aubusson rug. With the yellow chairs, it adds a layer of unexpected edginess to this room.
The darker floors also really make the rug stand out.

Finally here is one my favorite rooms. I think the the cow hide rug looks so lovely in this very neutral interior. What do think?
Click on Hooked on Houses to see what everyone else is hooked on!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Quest for The Holy Grail (or How I Found my Mora Clock)

Many of you have emailed me asking how I came to love Swedish antiques. Growing up we had very little money and my exposure to antiques came from my parents flea market finds. Even then I loved the history of the old pieces, but the furniture was walnut or cherry and very dark and heavy. In 1992, I was newly engaged. I bought a stack of house magazines, excited about someday owning my own home. I was flipping through a magazine and was struck by a advertisement by Anderson Windows. What was this gorgeous clock with such shapely and graceful lines and light, beautiful wood? I was was awestruck. Here is the ad above. (the middle one - yes, I still have the ad!)
I carried the ad everywhere. I went to flea markets and antique shows and asked every dealer if they had a clock like this or knew where I could find one. I did find out it was a Swedish Mora clock, but no one in New England knew where I could find one. One day my husband laughed that I was on my own personal quest for the Holy Grail - the elusive Mora Clock!

In 1993 my husband and I moved to Munich, Germany. In Bavaria, I was exposed to beautiful painted pieces and lovely stripped and waxed country style antiques. Meanwhile my sister was living in Copenhagen, Denmark and we spent many weekends exploring old barns and antique shops, searching for the "Holy Grail", but also finding other wonderful treasures.
One day while jogging around Munich my husband saw a Mora clock in a window of a store. He spoke to the owner in his very limited German and was told that the clock was sold. For months he refused to let me know where the shop was because he thought I would feel worse if I saw the clock in person. Finally, we were walking nearby the shop one evening and I saw the clock. I went in and spoke to the owner, also in very limited German, but found that in fact the clock was For Sale, not Sold. (He had mixed up his verb tenses!)

I bought the clock on the spot although needed several more weeks of restoration to the clock works. It has beautiful carvings, swag details and an oak leaf crown. I have never seen a clock I love more than this one.
We have had it over fifteen years and have spent those years finding other beautiful European antiques to compliment it, but it remains my most favorite.

I hope you love it as much as I do!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Swedish Furniture Makeover

Several years ago I found some wonderful Swedish antique furniture. It was covered in dirty muslin and desperately needed to be reupholstered.
Here is the bench, notice the tear on left side. The muslin was stapled on.
Two wonderful Bergere chairs - also notice the tear on the right chair and the awful stained upholstery fabric on the cushions. I also had two sweet Swedish side chairs which I did not take before photos of.
I searched for several years (really!) to find just the perfect linen fabric. It proved easy once I met Wendy Lewis of Textile Trunk. I spoke to her directly and mentioned I wanted hand woven linen, over a hundred years old, with a fine weave and soft drape- not nubby like like my grain sack pillows - more formal and soft. I vacillated on whether to have a grain sack stripe going down the front of the chairs, that is so popular these days, but in the end I decided to stick with what I am most comfortable with - the classics.

Wendy immediately sent me a few samples to review - each was more beautiful that one before. I decided on the gorgeous linen above. The seven stripes are just on the very end of the roll. The weaver most likely could not read or write and this combination of color, width and number of stripes was her signature. The stripes remain my favorite part of the roll and I intend to make them into small pillows to honor the time and effort put into this beautiful fabric by a unknown woman of long ago.
With such beautiful antique furniture and antique fabric that had touched such a sentimental cord with me, I was nervous to just let any upholsterer work on this project. What to do? I contact my bloggy friend, Linda Merrill of the famous Surroundings and The Skirted Round Table, for some direction. Another blessing, when Linda pointed me in the direction of Master Upholsterer, Heller Furniture. Above is photo of my Bergere Chair deconstructed.

A Czech by birth, Walter Heller is a master craftsman. His roots are firmly anchored in his extensive European training which began as an apprentice saddler and tapiezer in Bavaria, Germany, at the age of 14. For over 40 years, Heller has been working with architects, project managers, interior designers and residential clients to produce upholstered custom furniture. His knowledge of antique furniture and his attention to detail is outstanding. Once I met him and his assistant, Nancy, I breathed a sigh of relief that my furniture and fabric were the hands of a master! Thank you Linda, Walter and Nancy!

Walter's knowledge was exceptional - he showed me the jute webbing under the chair. He mentioned that although jute was generally used in a chair this age, this jute had been replaced- and poorly done as it was too sparse and would not provide good support.
He also showed me the chair joints which were loose. This was caused by the stripping of the furniture. These pieces, he said, were clearly dipped in Lye. Lye is wonderful for removing paint quickly but it also dissolves the wood glue that holds these pieces together and ultimately loosens the joints over time. Walter was able to re glue and screw the joints to strengthen the chairs.
Here is the chair being covered,. Notice the top, front, back panel of the chair. The upholstery stuffing is bumping out or "crowning" here to create a noticeable arc of padding. This is the way the chair was intended to look. Better photos of this effect below.
Antique fabrics do not generally match exactly in terms of color but Walter was able to use different shades in different areas of the chairs to create a visually perfect match.
Here the seat cushions for the Bergere chairs are being crafted.
I had a limited amount of fabric. He was able to use the linen so conservatively that I had enough left over to make pillows. Amazing!
Walter explained that the best furniture has nailed muslin covering - if you see staples, that is a sign that the quality may not be the best underneath!
Here is the finished bench at Walter's Workshop. He had to rebuild the cushion and the effect is fabulous. Notice the two seams down the front of the bench, the match is incredible.
Nail head trim or double welting are traditional in Swedish Upholstery - I prefer the double welting - notice the attention to detail.
Here is the Bergere Chair finished in the workroom. This is a better photo to highlight the upholstery bumping out and "crowning" on front upper back panel of the chair.
Double welting detail
Amazing work on the sides and arms of the chairs
Here are my pieces waiting to be picked up
And here they are in my Conservatory - waiting for my final decorating touches!
The Swedish bench with gorgeous antique, original grain sack pillows by textile artist, Kym Fraser of Three Fine Grains.
One (of my pair) of sweet Swedish chairs in front of my Mora Clock (just a peek as I am working on an upcoming post about the clock)

Finding the right fabrics and upholsterer can be a daunting task, but when you put all the right pieces together you can re-create beautiful furniture worthy of another hundred years.

For more information on Wendy Lewis of Textile Trunk and her lovely antique fabrics click here. For information on Master Craftsman and Upholsterer, Walter Heller and Heller Furniture click here. Don't forget to mention you heard about them on Willow Decor.

(all photos property of Willow Decor and Heller Furniture and not to be used without permission)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Home by the Sea by Hutker Architects

Mention fabulous residential architecture in Massachusetts and inevitably you will hear the name Hutker Architects. Their work has been published in leading design magazines including Coastal Living and Architectural Digest. Also the winner of numerous design awards and most recently inducted into the New England Design Hall of Fame, Mark Hutker, and his team, have created an impressive body of work.
Let's have a look at a wonderful, newly constructed ocean front home. This is the view of the impressive home from the water.
From the entry the home feels inviting; not huge or imposing.
This was achieved by designing a courtyard setting. Notice the the garage barn doors and wonderful coastal landscaping. It looks as if this house was just dropped on to the beach dunes.
A wonderful feature is the front entry porch which opens and looks directly through the back doors to the ocean. I love the columns, notice the heft of them and how the base is larger on the bottom.
The living room truly captures the coastal feel. I love the inlaid wood compass rose on the floor. I suspect it is positioned to point just as the house sits on the property.
Another angle of the living room which gives us a peek at some lovely window seats.
The view from the Butler's Pantry into the Dining Room and then on to the Living Room.
Pretty white kitchen with mosaic backsplash. Emeco industrial stools at the center island.
Of course if you are guests here you would be staying in the Guest House on the property. I love how well this home compliments the main house.
Here is the Guest House kitchen, artfully designed to include every appliance. I suspect this is stocked with all kinds of wonderful goodies
Notice the beautiful ceiling details.
Finally, no home by the ocean is complete with out a boat house. What a sweet, charming structure and so well landscaped.

Thanks to Hutker Architects for designing another wonderful home by sea...

(all photos by Brian Vanden Brink and property of Hutker Architects)
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