Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Humble Hanger


I was so excited when I came across these Italian gold gilt wooden hangers the other day while out shopping and lunching with a good friend.

 We had just grabbed a cup of coffee and with a few minutes to spare before our meter ran out, we ducked into a nearby thrift store for a quick look.

 I had never seen hangers like these before which is surprising for a long time treasure hunter like myself!

I imagined them hanging in a fancy coat closet off a ballroom in a grand mansion in San Francisco.

 Then I remembered, that I had a beautiful coat closet of my own!

What if I emptied it of all the coats and accompanying paraphernalia and hung these beautiful hangers that would be luxury!

 It could look like this when I opened the door and asked our guests if I could take their coat.

 It would be so civilized to actually have the room to elegantly accommodate their things.

But really...

 how practical would that be,

 in this day and age when we all have way too much and storage is at such a premium?
(I was too ashamed to show you the pile of coats and boots I had to take out of the closet in order to take these photos)

One can dream can't they?

 New treasure just listed at 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Artfully Disheveled Home or "Undecorating"

The Rise of the Personal

In interior design today, the ideal is lived-in, unfussy, creative imperfection. Call it 'undecorating'

Photograph by The Selby
The apartment of decorator Jacques Grange from the website 'The Selby' illustrates the undecorating trend.
Perhaps now is the time to undecorate, and by that I mean it's time to embrace the new design trend of undecorating. In her book, "Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design," Christiane Lemieux, the founder of the innovative fabric and furniture company DwellStudio, documents a widespread new trend in interior design, which is to say the lack of it, or rather the profusion of do-it-yourself style: "Perfection," she writes, "is overrated." The ideal the book puts forth is of unfussy, lived-in, creative, imperfect homes; it's a postcard taped to a vanity mirror, or two children scootering across a loft's exquisite floorboards, or cheap blue vases from Chinatown wired into lamps. The premise here is cleverness over money, taste over expense, personality over hired expertise, idiosyncrasy over polish; it's a welcome development, reflective of a recession-fueled revelation that money is not the same as beauty. ("Undecorate" features a foreword by Deborah Needleman, the Wall Street Journal editor who oversees this section.)

The origins of the "undecorating" movement lie in the rise, in the past decade, of blogs like "Apartment Therapy" and "Design Sponge," and the creation of shelter magazines like Domino and in Italy, "Apartamento," that began disseminating informal, accessible, personal design to the stylish amateur. The internet provided new access to anyone even moderately interested in design, or even just bored at work, to a whole realm of design ideas, no decorator required. The emphasis is on freshness, on individuality, on places one would really want to live in, and not just look at. Its values are reflected in websites like "The Selby," which celebrates extremely personal style, and in other new books like "Details" by Lili Diallo, or "Summers in France," by Kathryn Ireland.

The profusion of "undecorating" has some connection to the economic times, the idea, suddenly, that lavish is not entirely cool. It is not coincidence, surely, that in a world in which President Obama tells Wall Street guys that they should be ashamed of their bonuses, that the ideals of do-it-yourself, and cheap, eccentric, idiosyncratic expressions of personality should be in the ascendant. Ms. Lemieux says that this particular mode of creativity is, on some level, a response to an interior decorator being out of the question for many. "In figuring things out yourself," she says, "including what you can afford, you make interesting decisions that wouldn't be made if money were no object—the imperfections, the real life demands are what inspires us."

There are people within the decorating world who are suspicious of the idea of "undecorating." Kevin Sharkey, executive editorial director of decorating at Martha Stewart Living, for one, says, "I don't like the word. It conjures up a negative feeling." Yet, he adds, "if there is a trend, we probably initiated it." Ms. Lemieux believes Ms. Stewart had a role in the shift toward the do-it-yourself underpinning of "undecorating" and casts this new movement as more Martha deconstructed or Martha on the fly, or maybe, one might add, Martha minus the turning of tea towels into curtains.
Those who are averagely interested in their surroundings will find something liberating in this new modus vivendi.
Photograph by The Selby
The trend toward informal, idiosyncratic decorating is exemplified in designer Inès de la Fressange's Paris apartment, photographed by Todd Selby. 

It's true that many of the people featured in these gorgeous, glossy new books are "stylists," or "prop stylists," or otherwise employed in fashion. Gazing at their done-over barns and railroad apartments in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, one gets the definite sense that their "undecorated" spaces are a bit more decorated than our own undecorated spaces, and one secretly suspects that one's own life may not yield up the time to stumble across handpainted Chinoiserie wallpaper by the storied French firm de Gournay or antique Etruscan pottery brought back from a trip to Beirut. However, this book does make one reconsider one's own home, and see the accidental splash of color, the bike helmet perched on a coffee table book, the bewildering collection of Ganesh statues, say, the giant clamshells on the mantel, in a different light. The idea of an accidental aesthetic, of the things that you pull together for private reasons, gives you a new perspective, and liberates you from the more rigid dictates of good taste. Take the orange striped Moroccan rug you bought after a break up out of a sudden desire for color and warmth and an exotic new something, along with the forest-green Art Deco couches, which some might say clash in both color and style. Instead, according to these principles, they now give your living room a certain undecorated panache; they are expressive of a moment, a private history. The fantasy of the undecorated house is Tuesday morning as it is actually lived, not as we would like other people to imagine it; it is the idea of energy, of chaos, of motion, of mess (well, mess within very circumscribed and aesthetically pleasing limits: children lying in a pile of books, artfully unmade beds, one piece of clothing strewn across a couch).

This "democratic" impulse in design, of course, is not entirely new. Periodically there is a design revolution that imagines itself in opposition to the formal, overly polished aesthetic of the previous generation. Take for instance Roger Fry's Omega studio, founded in London in 1913, where Bloomsbury artists designed fabrics and furniture in venetian reds, salmons and lemon yellows, to reflect the fresh air of the changing times, in direct rebellion against the formal antiques and heavy draperies of Victorian interiors. One of the newspapers of the day called the studio's creations "immoral furniture," and that immorality was an early glimmer of the impulse to "undecorate."

The cynical among us might imagine that if the movement toward "undecorating" truly takes off, this will simply mean enormous amounts of effort poured into looking effortless; that a whole new breed of undecorators will be spawned, who will scour Parisian flea markets to unearth that perfect, quirky, idiosyncratic expression of their client's innermost self—and, in fact, there already are some hard at work doing just that. The cynical might even argue we are simply creating a new rigorous set of standards—Eclectic! Personal! Quirky! Casual!—for the average individual to live up to. But even those hardened cynics will have to admit that they would rather go to a dinner party at one of the splashy, inviting, inventive houses featured in "Undecorate" than step into one of the daunting interiors on the cover of Architectural Digest, where you are very likely to be quizzed on obscure Renaissance artists and will almost definitely spill red wine on the impeccable expanse of white couch.

A friend turned me on to this article from The Style Section of The Wall Street Journal this past weekend.  I thought you might enjoy it as much as we did!

Congratulations to Nita from Mod Vintage Life, the winner of the Joss & Main $100 e-spree Giveaway.   Have fun Nita!

The newest treasure just listed at 
is sure to bring a smile to your face!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'd love your input

Should I swap out the Barcelona chair that currently resides in our bedroom...

for this Rosewood Norwegian Falcon Chair

 or this

Mid Century Leather and Teak Safari Chair?

I met 2 fabulous girls while waiting in line for an estate sale on Friday. Turns out they just launched a website called, where they sell Mid Century chairs they find and refurbish.

I'm not normally a big fan of Mid Century design but I have to admit that I am smitten with both of these chairs.

So tell me, which one would you choose?

Check out the latest treasure for sale at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New York, N.Y.

I squealed with delight when I found these wonderful vintage images of New York City yesterday while on the prowl for treasures.

I haven't had a chance to research them yet but I think they are from the 1920's or 30's.

I just love the wide open, expansiveness of New York back then when the city was rife with opportunity!

There are a total of 12.

8 are of and around New York City.

3 are of Central Park

1 is of Columbia University.

3 are vertical and 9 are horizontal,

which gives a lot of versatility in how they can be arranged.

Having 12 to work with also allows the possibility of splitting them into several groupings depending on your wall space or room.

Each image measures approx. 5 1/4 x 7 1/2.

I will be offering them as I found them, which is mounted on heather gray medium stock paper.  The buyer can then have them framed as they wish.


Email me to purchase

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When it rains, it pours!

Tipped off by a friend late Friday evening I raced over to this sale first thing Saturday morning and stood in line for an hour in the rain.

Once inside, I scanned this room for hidden treasures.

Fortunately there wasn't a lot of competition as the weather was a definite deterrent.

Of course I talked my "partner in crime" into coming along.

 Here she is buying her favorite thing...


 Her next stop?
You guessed it.

 There was also a fabulous book room.
We were told that a local family had generously donated the entire library from their father's estate.

Check out this box of magazines from the late 1800's!

 Downstairs in the furniture/art room,  I found these 3 amazing pieces.

 I couldn't quite wrap my head around this incredible oil painting that looks to be from around the mid 1800's.

I'm going to take it to the auction house on Thursday to find out more about it.

Of course I'm hoping for an Antiques Roadshow moment!

Next up is this beautiful still life.

And last, but not least...

is this wonderful watercolor of what looks to be a young boy in military school.

 He's a keeper!

I'm going to hang him in my son's "new" sophisticated bedroom/guest room which I'll show you soon!




Monday, March 21, 2011

The Jewel

of The California Missions

Historic Mission San Juan Capistrano

The grounds & gardens.

After touring these gorgeous grounds, both my husband and I wanted to come home immediately and plant succulents!

The iconic bell wall adjacent to the Great Stone Church.

The back of the bell wall

 The ruins of The Great Stone Church which was completed in 1806 and destroyed in an earthquake in 1812.

 The altar

 You can see the restoration of the columns here.

The original altar steps

These are the original bells that once hung in 
The Great Stone Church.

And last, but not least, the newly conserved Serra Chapel, the only standing church where Father Junipero Serra is known to have said mass.

 I hope you enjoyed this tour of the most beautiful of all the California Missions.  Being a California girl, I grew up visiting and learning all about the missions and Father Junipero Serra, I even built a model of a mission in the 4th grade,  but somehow I managed to save the best for last!  After visiting here, I completely agree that Mission San Juan Capistrano is truly the jewel of the missions.

 I want to leave you with The Story of San Juan Capistrano's Mission Swallows which is happening right now.

The miracle of the "Swallows" of Capistrano takes place each year at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, on March 19th, St Joseph's Day.
As the faithful little birds wing their way back to the most famous mission in California, the village of San Juan Capistrano takes on a fiesta air and the visitors from all parts of the world, and all walks of life, gather in great numbers to witness the "miracle" of the return of the swallows.
Each year the "Scout Swallows" precede the main flock by a few days and it seems to be their chief duty to clear the way for the main flock to arrive at the "Old Mission" of Capistrano.
With the arrival of early dawn on St. Joseph's Day, the little birds begin to arrive and begin rebuilding their mud nests, which are clinging to the ruins of the old stone church of San Juan Capistrano. The arches of the two story, high vaulted Chapel were left bare and exposed, as the roof collapsed during the earthquake of 1812.
This Chapel, said to be the largest and most ornate in any of the missions, now has a more humble destiny--that of housing the birds that St. Francis loved so well.
After the summer spent within the sheltered walls of the Old Mission of San Juan Capistrano, the swallows take flight again, and on the day of San Juan, October 23rd, they leave after circling the Mission bidding farewell to the "JEWEL OF ALL MISSIONS".