Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gorgeous Grisaille!

(down east dilettante)
Grisaille painting and wall papers have always been a love of mine. Grisaille (pronounced "griz eye") is the french word for shades of grey. This monochromatic technique was done both because artists could travel and do the work with out supplies, and the Grisaille painting could be a sample and/or under painting over which pigments could be applied.
Linda Coulter, a wonderful painter explains in her website: This concept was developed many centuries ago when pigments were very scarce. The Old Masters had only a handful of pigments to accomplish their beautiful results so they had to push each individual pigment to its fullest capacity to be able to achieve the luminosity in their art work that made them famous. In those days when pigments were extremely expensive, and it was also a way to save money. A sister to Grisaille is the less known Brunaille - which is in shades of brown. Below are some of my favorite examples.
The first is Martha Stewart's entry hall in her Turkey Hill House. This large mural stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw it . Lovely!
Here a common suburban two story entry turns extraordinary with this hand painted design.(down east dilettante)
This historic house turned museum is in Portsmouth, NH. The Moffat-Ladd house mural is likely Dufour wall paper from early 1900's, which depicts the Bay of Naples. To learn more about this wonderful house click here.

(architect design)

Here antique wall paper panels found at the Louvre are stunning. Read more about them on Architect Design here.

(Cote de Texas via Edie van Breems)

One of my favorite images is from Cote de Texas via Edie van Breems of Libby Holsten's home click here. The curves of Mora clock wonderfully compliment the mural behind it.

I love the room above, though not traditionally Grisaille or Brunaille, the addition of the shades of green and the side panel painting make for a gorgeous wall.

I adore this 18 century hand blocked Grisaille wall paper from Wendy Lewis at the Textile Trunk. You may not be aware of this, but Wendy also has a gorgeous selection of rare antique wallpapers.

This particular piece took my breath away! It is just stunning in shades of cream and gray. I envision it framed in my Living room or Dining room like a rare work of art, or perhaps I could cover a screen with it. Oh the possibilities!
(photos above Textile Trunk)
Though Wendy does not always list every gorgeous paper she has (her wallpapers move fast and are in great demand by her interior designer buyers) send her an email and she will let you know what treasures she has recently found. Click here to contact Wendy.
If you do decide to buy this let me know how you use it. But if its sold by the time you read this, you may end up seeing it in one of my clients homes or even in my own house because I just can't stop thinking about it!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One of My Secret Shopping Spots!

Now that the crazy end of the year school schedule is over and my children are in camp, I have a few moments to get back to blogging and share with you one of my secret spots for finding interesting things for my home. One of my favorite types of places to shop are consignment stores, especially in more affluent areas. Homes are large, filled to the brim with designer selected treasures and when these same families want to remodel, redecorate or down size, these wonderful items end up at consignment stores. Fabulous high quality furniture, antiques and accessories at a fraction of the original cost.
So image my delight when Boston Consignment opened their new shop, strategically located only a few minutes drive from some of the most affluent zip codes in Massachusetts.
mark thomson)
Owner Sheila Ryan Roy and her husband Real, have been in the consignment business for many years in Connecticut, but wanted to be closer to their grandchildren. Lucky for us those grandchildren live in Massachusetts. Sheila has an incredible eye and their store is stocked to the brim with some wonderful treasures. Let's have a look at some of their recent acquisitions.
A wonderful vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase with a perfect worn patina; a great accent in any room.
How about this fabulous art deco print by Jay Spectre - The frame is stunning.
A wonderful Bavarian amoire - hand painted - If only I had a space in my beach house - The blues would look beautiful against the white walls and ocean views.
You could put this linen tufted armchair in almost any room of your house!
I adore gorgeous andirons and this pair almost came home with me. Sheila mentioned that many designers and antique dealers frequent her shop. I am not surprised! I sent a photo of this mirror to one of my clients - I thought it would look perfect in her home.
I sent this photo to a different client - She had been searching for a Venetian mirror for her living room- and here it was at a fraction of the cost.
These hand painted beds were fabulous. I wish I had room for them. There are so many great finds (and buys!) at Boston Consignment, it makes me want to redecorate my house all over again! If you are nearby do stop in and tell Sheila and Real that you heard about them from Gina at Willow Decor.
If you want to browse their items on line click here. And for directions and hours click here. If you do score an amazing find please send me an email - I would love to see what you bought! Happy shopping!!
(unless otherwise noted, photo credit: Tabitha Sherrell of Sherrell Photography)

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Reader's Edwardian Townhouse in London!

After my post, Renovating My Beach House, I received the most reader mail in the history of Willow Decor (if you missed it click here). The transformation was striking and the room came alive. Though painting the walls created a dramatic change, the richness of the room and the true success of the transformation was due in part to the Farrow and Ball Paints. I received many emails from readers who felt, as I do, that the F&B paints are amazing and worth the additional cost (about 2x as much as the popular "store brand"). To be clear I have no affiliation with Farrow & Ball, I am just an extremely satisfied customer. The way the finished walls reflect the light , they produce a result that I feel is worth the additional cost. A reader named Naomi in London agreed with me. She wrote that her home was also transformed and enhanced by Farrow and Ball Paints and it was recently feature in Period Living Magazine. Was I interested in seeing some photos? Well of course I said yes!! So let's take a tour of Naomi's Edwardian Townhouse - It really is amazing!!!
Naomi told me that shades of off white feature heavily through out the townhouse. "Playing with tricks of light was key to creating the optical illusion of more space" Above her kitchen cabinets and shelving are painted in Pointing with New White on the ceiling and walls.
"We painted the original built-in dresser and built the kitchen around it, with MDF shelving, which once given the F &B treatment, looks like its original to the House!"
Just beautiful!! Also notice her lovely collection of antique crockery.
In other rooms she used the warmer Farrow and Ball Cream with White Tie (one of her personal favorites). Above is the dining room where she used the F&B paints to transform an old pine oval table bought for only £20! She shows us how rooms and furniture can be transformed beautifully (and inexpensively) with paint!
Peeking out to the amazing gardens!!
Of course the home has outstanding period details like this beautiful fireplace in the living room .
And the lovely ceiling detailing, which is enhanced by the F&B paint.
Here is the before of the entry staircase. She knew I would particularly love this transformation!
And of course I do!! Naomi writes:" The entrance hall had a good wool carpet, which, although neutral, didn't lend any character to the house, and also got pretty beaten up by workmen during the renovations, so I used a piece of antique Hungarian grainsacking (which I know you love) sourced on e-bay. We laid over cutaway pieces of the existing underlay, and found brass stair rods on the Internet for a very cheap price. My Dad helped me lay it and stripped back the stair treads. The banister rail had it's old varnish removed and a stain finish to match the floorboards and stair treads. We painted the balustrades in White Tie, to open up the area, and the walls in F&B Cream, below the rail, and White Tie above it. I love the way the caramel colour of the grainsacking stripes picks out the honeyed colour of the banister rail. I painted and distressed an old Chinese bookcase (very chipped and battered) and a long, wide mirror for the right hand wall, to open up the space again. The glass pendant light on old-fashioned fabric covered cable was from Jim Lawrence."
A peek into her real London conservatory!! You know I adore conservatories and this one is perfect for enjoying a cup of tea!
Her spectacular outdoor gardens. She writes: "I am a huge Farrow and Ball fan and my husband quips if he stands still long enough I will paint him, such is my obsession with painting and distressing old pieces, walls..." I wish Naomi and I lived closer - I am sure we would have a lot of fun together!! To read the original article about her home in Period Living Magazine click here. Thank you for sharing your beautiful home and ideas with us, Naomi!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Escape to Bermuda

I just got back from a short vacation to Bermuda with my husband. We left the kids to reconnect and celebrate our 18 year anniversary!
Pink sand and turquoise water is a winning combination. As soon as we got to our hotel we immediately relaxed! These two photos are from Tucker's Point. It is a gorgeous hotel.
As soon as we settle in, we both always look at the real estate guides; we are always interested in properties. This particular home caught our eye. I guess you could say it's our hobby, because of course we could never afford to buy such an extravagant retreat.
This home was designed and influenced by renaissance architecture. If you look beyond the gorgeous furniture and notice the architecture itself, the room is quite grand. I love the fireplace and the french doors. But what really caught my attention was the ceilings - every room in this estate has interesting ceilings. The wood ceiling above really warms up the opulent space.
Perhaps the most impressive ceiling was in the dining room. The coved ceiling was illuminated in gold leaf.
The kitchen ceiling was also an interesting work of art. I loved the wood design and the way it was white washed and distressed. Of course the zinc hood made me swoon.
I just fell in love with this office! The doors, the view and the ceiling -stained the same color as the ocean. Just beautiful!
I really like the relaxed feeling of this guest room. It is has the classic wood/tropical ambiance. Another room with spectacular ceilings.
Overall the home is a bit too opulent for me but they seemed to get the bedrooms right! Here the view in the master bedroom takes center stage - and the coffered ceiling is nice too.
This is the lovely view off the master bedroom terrace - beautiful iron work on the railings. Again notice the ceiling, clearly no detail was overlooked.
Of course I could get used to cocktails by the pool...but its back to reality for me. If you want to dream a little, check out the rest of this estate here. End of the year school activities with kids are keeping me busy since I returned, but it was a wonderful anniversary trip!!
(all photos Tuckers Point and Sotheby's)