art, books, inspiration, interiors

on my bookshelf: “Quiet Patterns”

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Bird and Pomegranate (William Morris)

Two things are happening in our homes these days: we are back in love with wallpaper (It seems we were afraid of it for a while) and we are taking a holistic approach to designing our houses and decorating our rooms. That is to say, we are interested in beauty and our overall well-being. Of course I couldn’t be more pleased. But honestly it is Abigail Edward’s newly published book Quiet Patterns: Gentle Designs for Interiors that really got my mind going on this matter. In it she argues (softly) that, when incorporated properly, pattern (many of which are derived from nature and childhood images reminding us of the countryside or secret garden or enchanted forest of our youth) has the power to transform a space and to soothe our weary modern souls. Continue reading “on my bookshelf: “Quiet Patterns””

antiques, gardens, inspiration, interiors, interview

Larger Cross: an interview with shop owner Alice Minnich

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Alice Minnich left the big city life to return to the countryside and to her roots. And it seems she has never looked back. After many creative endeavors in New York City, including culinary school, freelance food styling, and working for interior designer Alex Papachristidis, Alice started her own business and is the sole proprietor of Larger Cross, a studio and online shop based in Oldwick, New Jersey. Alice and I are virtual friends (as much as I hate that saying, it’s true), and after admiring her style from afar (she makes a hand broom look chic), and watching her skillfully balance the entrepreneurial with the creative, I reached out to see if she would be willing to chat with me and my readers. I’m so glad she did. As she put it, we are kindred spirits, and I think you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. Continue reading “Larger Cross: an interview with shop owner Alice Minnich”

gardens, inspiration

nasturtium: the unsung hero of summer flowers

 

8BB22101-E6CA-4EEA-A65E-0CEE9A29B575Not long ago, on the terrace of a restaurant near a lake, I saw nasturtiums tumbling out of urns. They were accompanied by some herbs: rosemary, thyme, lavender and so on. It reminded me of my love for nasturtium that began years ago when I had a sunny garden and grew them from seeds. It also reminded me that I had bought some packets of nasturtium seeds early this season with the intention of planting them in containers on our rooftop deck, but sadly this didn’t happen for various reasons (lots of rain and forgetfulness). Continue reading “nasturtium: the unsung hero of summer flowers”

antiques, inspiration, interiors

seaside notes: 3 vignettes with coral

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You already know about my love of interior vignettes (an art form open to everyone, one that resides in our humble homes, and one that can be permanent or fleeting). So, despite my affinity for things with a countryside vibe (more land than sea, I suppose), I am taken by some of the coral sculptures that have become popular accessories over the last few years. No longer a fad, they seem to be sticking around and can look quite elegant and timeless—giving a room a summery, seaside feel, but also as interesting objects reminding us of the sea throughout the year (because isn’t remembering what our “things” are really about?). Continue reading “seaside notes: 3 vignettes with coral”

antiques, inspiration, interiors

collecting: antique oyster plates

 

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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

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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

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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.