antiques, inspiration, interiors

collecting: antique oyster plates

 

7B0353D1-1970-42F3-B0DD-DB27CB38BED0

Imagine a summer day long ago, make it the Victorian era, somewhere in the countryside, of course, when there was no such thing as air conditioning, but there were sleeping porches and mosquito nets and lavish meals starting with oysters served on beautiful plates. Continue reading “collecting: antique oyster plates”

interiors

a mantel vignette

6DBD76E2-3678-472E-81BA-64C275E110CF

The mantel, as we know, is the perfect place for a still life vignette because the fireplace is often the focal point in a room (especially in a country house), and because most mantels are shelf-like, with space (but not too, too much space, for vignettes should be smallish things) to create an artful display of objects.

(And there is indeed an art to the vignette, which I find fascinating because they might be formal or casual, and they might be short-lived or permanent, and they tell a little story of the house, and I will be exploring them much more in future posts.)

Interior designer Justin Bishop’s American country vignette in black on this bright white mantel is thoughtfully balanced and interesting (if not whimsical, then certainly curious with the dangling leg of the figurine, the top hat echoed in the antique print hanging above, the shadowy hound, and the small American flag, a trinket). There is a silhouette quality at play here that takes us back in time, but instead of being stale is crisp and fresh. And like a good vignette should, it makes me wonder: what will come next?

antiques

the story of the tulipiere

ECS_tulipiere

The story of the tulipiere starts with Tulipmania (1634-1637), when tulips were the new gold, costing a small fortune and bringing along with them high social status (Queen Mary II was a huge fan). It has been said (though there are some conflicting reports on this, but isn’t that the case with all good stories) that the potters and ceramicists of the day created the tulipieres so that the much coveted, outrageously expensive bulbs could be planted in the individual compartments of the vessel so as not to be disturbed or upstaged by any of the lesser flowers. Others say that the tulipiere was not made for growing but for displaying the freshly cut tulips in an artful and practical way (as you may know, tulip stems continue to grow even after they are cut and placed in water and begin to get a bit unruly, in which case the tulipiere keeps them in place). Whatever the case may be, the Dutch, of course, made them first out of their delftware and these are the ones we are probably most familiar with.

Meanwhile, the tulip has come down, you might say (all of us common folks can get them now in the grocery store). But the story of the tulipiere seems to be having a second act. They are back in the spotlight, having their moment in the spheres of interior decorating, antique collecting, and floral design. And modern day potters (like Frances Palmer and Matthew Solomon) are reinterpreting them in whimsical ways.

antiques, inspiration, interiors

a Bunny Mellon vignette to welcome you!

If you currently live an elegant country lifestyle or if you aspire to, and if you believe (like I do) that elegant country style is not only a way of life, but also a mindset, then I welcome you to my site!

With each post I’ll be exploring what elegant country style means to me and how many have achieved it (all over the world) through architecture, interior design, gardening, and even sartorial choices.

ECS_Bunny Mellon vignette

Here, is a Bunny Mellon vignette to start us off. Who better (in my opinion) to show us one way to achieve elegant country style than the woman who said to her interior decorators (Bruce Budd, John Fowler, and Billy Baldwin no less): “Make it look like we just brought it down from the attic.” She was the queen of understated and knew how to blend the rustic with the refined.

Here is a photograph of her desk in her home called Oak Spring in Virginia. Her signature elements were her topiaries (which she grew herself), handwoven baskets, rooms in shades of white, blue, cream, and yellow, Impressionist landscape paintings, and painted hardwood floors.  Notice the antique boxes and Staffordshire porcelain tulips alongside her garden shears and a simple terra cotta pot. Quite lovely!