collecting: the stylish 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.

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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.

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Meanwhile, the tulip has come down, you might say (all of us non-royalty folks can get them now in the grocery store). And 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.

74371154-9438-4142-B30D-DC46D3014945Antique tulipieres can be pricey and hard to get your hands on, but if you find one that you love, it might be worth the investment. Some reproductions and vintage tulipieres are more reasonably priced and these are a good place to start for new collectors or those who want to use them as casual vessels for flowers.

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And modern day artists  (like Frances Palmer and Matthew Solomon) are reinterpreting them in whimsical ways.

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

vintage tins with flowers (some chic styling ideas)

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Long ago my sister and I had a small flower business, and one of the things that we loved to do was use antique and vintage containers in our floral designs. It’s a nice way to make small arrangements that can brighten a neglected space, like a powder room or a forgotten corner. What’s nice too, is that you don’t need a whole lot of expensive flowers to create this look. And this time of year, flowers are about to be everywhere: grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and your own garden. Vintage tins can be found at tag sales, garage sales, flea markets, and junk shops. Most of them range from a couple dollars to twenty dollars at the most (some rare tins are more expensive).

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I’ve collected some images of arrangements in vintage tins that I think are chic and not too cutesy (which is something that you have to be careful to avoid).

And here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years:

  • Old tins often leak, so use a plastic floral liner or a small water glass inside the tin to hold the water and flowers.
  • Use flowers with small blooms and cut the stems fairly short so that you can create the effect shown in the images below.
  • Choose flowers that compliment the tin rather than compete with it, and experiment with the shape and color of your arrangement.

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Happy flower arranging!

A: architectural elements used in unexpected (but not cliched) ways

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Another was Mrs. Burden, who had a big house on Long Island, where she had installed the old gates from Devonshire House that she bought when they tore it down. ~ Nancy Lancaster

Architectural elements—salvaged architectural pieces like old doors, windows, corbels, pediments, mantelpieces, columns, balusters, garden gates, fences, finials, and so on—used unconventionally in rooms is a popular thing right now. And using these historical building pieces as a statement or as understated accents is a smart way to give character to a newer space or to add even more depth and texture to an older one. It’s a way of repurposing that I think is a good one for many reasons, but mostly for how it gives beauty a second chance.

But the trick nowadays is to avoid the cliché (isn’t that always the trick?!), like barn doors used as a dining room table (once this was fresh, now it is feeling a bit passé).

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Antique dealer, Furlow Gatewood, surprises with gothic elements artfully placed in an otherwise traditional setting. It works so well because he sticks with shades of white and gray so that what we notice most of all are the lines and the interesting juxtapositions that begin to appear as our eyes move around the room.

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Darryl Carter has a knack for creating works of art out of salvaged pieces and giving them center stage in his chic, minimalist rooms. What I like about his out-of-context, slightly exaggerated use is how it makes us see something with fresh eyes and opens up possibilities, and of course good conversation.

And one can imagine the life these rustic barn doors had before being re-imagined as indoor shutters painted a gorgeous turquoise by designer Barbara Westbrook.

93b33865-697a-4f66-8ae0-5cb6ac56a443One more option, a slight twist on this theme, but one that must not be overlooked is incorporating nicely framed architectural drawings.

a7b140b0-68ef-437e-a5d5-eceaaf7d549cFor those of us creating rooms that we want to live in comfortably, adding architectural details can be elegant and chic if we keep this in mind: let them find you. When we go looking for these elements for a certain spot they feel forced. When we find them in our travels—near or far—they seem to belong wherever we put them.

(Note: This post is the first in a new series for 2019 titled “Elegant Country Style: The Country House Milieu from A to Z.” Hope you will enjoy following along!)

Happy Friday!