I don’t think I could ever check off every place on my bucket list. It’s filled with both well-known and obscure corners of the world that I desperately want to explore before my time to walk this earth is…well…let’s not go there. Today, I’ve chosen to share one of those little treasures undiscovered by the vast majority people, Gueledon.

I have always been a history lover…I could devour a Philippa Gregory novel in an afternoon if left to my own devices. As a child, I always pretended to be a Disney princess (my favorite was Sleeping Beauty) waiting for my Prince Charming to arrive. In middle school, the fantasy faded but the love for castle life and architecture did not…so much so that I created the “Castle Club” with another friend of mine. This entailed receiving extra credit for spending hours in the library studying various castles. The capstone was recreating one such castle out of sugar cubes and marshmallow fluff. (Wow, I can’t believe I admitted that on the internet.) However, my reverence for these structures hasn’t wained and I found my Prince Charming who accepts my love of all things turreted and built of stone. The other day, said Prince, sent me a link to the most amazing place….a castle being built using medieval techniques just a short drive from Paris (also on my bucket list). To see this in action would be incroyable….anyone want to take a trip?

 

For today’s blog post, my intention was to showcase some of my favorite floral wallpapers in honor of the start of spring but I just can’t get into that mindset as I sit here with yet another Nor’Easter swirling outside my windows. So…I’ll save those for another week. Instead, I’m returning to my trip to Parma but this time, in much more detail.

The doors of Parma captivated me. I didn’t realize it at first but as I started my self tour of the city, I realized I had taken multiple pictures of these ancient architectural forms. Arched doorways, iron strap hinges, rivets (like those in the door pictured above) and more grabbed my eye. Any local probably thought I was a little cuckoo for walking up to almost every door and running my fingers over the aged wood. But when you are surrounded by this kind of beauty everyday, I’m sure it is easy to pass by. For me, that was not the case.

Another amazing door and a close-up of it’s door knocker.

From the ancient doors of the Baptistery surrounded by pink verona marble to burgundy velvet draped doors leading into the Cathedral, each one has so much character and history that they were hard to pass by. I could’ve spent a full day looking at just these monuments of history. Yes…doors are made to serve a very practical purpose but they can also be handcrafted pieces of art made by the hands of skilled artisans.

Since it’s the week of leprechauns and gold coins, I thought I’d share some of my favorite green and gold interior image from Pinterest.

  1. A chinoiserie-inspired kid’s room.
  2. Schumacher’s Nanjing wallpaper in Jade.
  3. A Palmer Weiss designed key lime master bedroom.
  4. Spotted walls in a bath.
  5. Chartreuse chic in a Alessandra Branca designed master bedroom.
  6. Sicis mosaic tile.
  7. A pineapple printed wallpaper in a McBrien Interiors designed powder room. Photo by Scot Zimmerman Photography
  8. Evergreen ceiling fan.
  9. A greek key and geometric wallpaper.
  10. Tory Burch’s office in Manhattan.
  11. The most amazing terrace.

All images courtesy of Pinterest unless otherwise stated.

Last week I had the dream opportunity to spend a few days in Italy drinking prosecco and eating ALL the pastas, cheeses and parma ham. But that’s not all I did…I spent time at Mercanteinfiera, an antiques market in Parma, honing my eye by looking and touching pieces from across the world and across time. Seeing how these international antiques dealers merchandise their finds from different eras was inspiring and I can only hope will make me a better designer. It’s my dream to start to incorporate antiques into my client’s projects. I think pieces with history give soul to a space and add to the story of a home. Shopping this market was just the tip of the iceberg for me as I continue to educate myself about the world of antiques. Below are some of my favorite finds….

I’m a sucker for a gorgeous piece of sparkling jewelry and any of these would be amazing inspiration for the design of a room. The shape of the pendant could be used in the pattern of textiles in a bedroom with acrylic hardware used to reflect light like diamonds. The sea green brooch would be the start of a color palette for a living room. It’s easy to find inspiration for design anywhere. Especially when it looks as good as these do.

I love pieces with interesting details or exquisite craftsmanship. All of the below have something unique about them from the hand painted Asian armoire to the delicate inlay on the side of the desk. Each piece has something that speaks to me and pulls me in. Which is your favorite?

Before boarding a plane, I’m frantically trying to choose the right book to bring to read. Do I want a page-turning, can’t put it down murder mystery? A beach read to just lay in the sun and get lost in? Or a historical fiction novel that enlightens as well as entertains. I keep a running list of books that I want to order or a stack on my nightstand to choose from; however, I have a feeling that on this trip I won’t have much downtime to relax and read. So, instead of sharing my wish list of paperbacks, I’m sharing the catalogue of design books in my Amazon Prime queue. There are plenty more so this is just a taste. Any recommendations from my fellow bibliophiles?

From Top Left: Classic Principles for Modern Design: Lessons from Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman’s The Decoration of Houses by Thomas Jayne, Regency Redux by Emily Evans Eerdmans, Charlotte Moss: A Visual Life by Charlotte Moss, Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, Air by Vincent Laforet, Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style by Mark D. Sikes, Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration, History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400-2000

For the last few days, I’ve been alluding to an exciting upcoming adventure on Instagram and it’s finally time to reveal what I’ll be up to. Next Tuesday evening, I will be flying “across the pond” to attend Mercanteinfiera in Parma, Italy with some fellow travel/interior design/antiques enthusiasts.

A few images from last year’s Mercanteinfiera

One is Toma Clark Haines, aka, The Antiques Diva, whom I met briefly at a seminar a few weeks ago and is THE go-to source for antique tours and antique buying abroad and in the US.

“Since opening in 2008 The Antiques Diva® & Co has become the world’s largest antiques buying and touring services company, offering custom, private one-on-one antiques buying tours in 15 countries in Europe, Asia and America to both private individuals (tourists) and to the trade (antique dealers and interior designers). Our team of over 25 locally based guides are well-versed in the local culture, language, and best local sources for antiques – whether that be the local flea markets, antique warehouses or private, by-appointment-only antique stores.” (except from their website)

Toma has a fascinating life exemplified by her recent move from Germany to Venice and I am very much looking forward to hearing about what inspired her to develop this business. I am determined to absorb all I can from her about the process of buying antiques abroad and share any juicy tidbits upon my return.

From L-R: Kelly Maguire of Modern Antiquarian, The Antiques Diva, and Me

Another of these amazing women is DJ Carey, Editor-in-Chief of one of my favorite local shelter magazines, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens.

CTC&G editor-in-chief D.J. Carey has a wealth of experience in design media, having begun her career at House & Garden, followed by stints at Ladies’ Home Journal and Redbook, among others. At CTC&G, she helps showcase the best Connecticut has to offer. “Connecticut has such a rich history of design that most of us are unaware of,” she says. “This is a great opportunity to enlighten those who live in Connecticut about what is in their own backyards.” However, her skills influence all Cottages & Gardens products. Carey lives in a 19th-century farmhouse in Norwalk, Connecticut, with her husband and daughter.” (excerpt from website)

I recently spent time with DJ at the KBIS show in Orlando on their VIP Curated Tour which is where we found out we’d be traveling to Italy together. She and I will have a lot of time to not only discover Mercanteinfiera but also the city of Parma itself. Seeing both the market and this ancient region through the eyes of a magazine editor will in itself be an amazing and invaluable experience.

DJ and I at a recent CTC&G event recapping trends from KBIS 2018.

And last but certainly not least, is the dynamic duo that makes up Modern Antiquarian, Margaret Schwartz and Kelly Maguire, both of whom I met by chance last year at their beautifully curated store, The Summer House. While The Summer House has since closed, they’ve been able to focus fully on their antiques business and set up a beautiful space at The Antique & Artisan Gallery in Stamford, CT.

“Modern Antiquarian was born out of a love for antique furniture and objects and a passion that grew into a career. Margaret Schwartz developed her love of antiques over time and as that passion grew she felt a need to share it. It started when Margaret read about antiques tours on The English Room blog and it piqued her interest. She booked a one day tour not knowing what to expect. By the end of the day she had filled a 20’ container and was hooked on antiques. We understand that antiques are intimidating and can be expensive, so anyone who is diving into the antiques world is bound to need some advice along the way.” (excerpt from website)

And some advice is what I need…as an inexperienced but passionate antique lover, I have already learned so much from these two and I look forward to continuing to expand my knowledge. It was Margaret that asked me to join them on this trip and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

Margaret Schwartz, Owner

Kelly Maguire

Follow along with me Feb 28th-Mar 4 on my Instagram as I explore the city of Parma, Italy and it’s Mercanteinfiera to see this amazing city and market of antiques through my eyes.

It’s Valentine’s week and I always get caught up in the exuberant romanticism of Cupid’s holiday. What could be better than a day focused on spending time with the ones you love celebrating with delectable food, bubbly champagne and decadent dark chocolate covered strawberries? Typically I gravitate to all things pink…from baby girl pale pink roses and sparkling rose in crystal glasses to deep fuchsia fuzzy cashmere sweaters worn with black pants for a date night out. Red is not a color I tend to use often in my work nor have I had many clients specifically request it; however, I wanted this year to be different. I spent some time perusing some of my favorite inspiration images with ruby accents and found beauty in this bold hue. Here are a few of my favorites incorporating daring color in large splashes and small flashes.

Red chinoiserie bamboo chairs add a pop of color to otherwise neutral rooms. Left Image: Interior Design by Alessandra Branca (one of my color heroes!). Right Image: Pinterest.

A study in contrasts. Some expect that a piece of red furniture in a bright room especially one as large as a sofa will dominate what the eye sees and be too overwhelming. However, the living room on the left designed by Mark D. Sikes still feels light and bright even with the bold crimson sofa. This is also true with the library designed by Mona Ross Berman on the right. The black high gloss painted bookcases tone down the dominant red upholstery and soften the room. Notice how they both use animal print pillows to accessorize? So chic!

I’m always inspired by the work of these three. From left to right: Carolyne Roehm, Sarah Richardson and Alexa Hampton.

What a gorgeous nook! Waking up here with a cup of tea would certainly kickstart my day. Image from House Beautiful.

And lastly, if painting a bedroom crimson or wallpapering a powder room with cardinal colored chinoiserie panels seems too bold, you can easily incorporate the saturated color in a small scale by framing a small piece of Scalamandre’s classic Zebra wallpaper and hanging it like artwork or styling a cherry painted chest with traditional blue and white ginger jars or even black small accessories.

Images from left to right: Pinterest

I am very fortunate that I have been able to spend a few days over the last couple of weeks visiting various industry shows that capture what’s new and happening in the world of interiors. I started with KBIS in Orlando a few weeks ago, followed by the Winter Antiques show in NYC. And just yesterday, I spent several hours perusing the booths at the NY Now show, also in NYC. While the wares shown at each of these are from opposite ends of multiple spectrums, I noticed several commonalities throughout. One of the most prominent to me was the use of BLACK everywhere. Some vendors used it as the wall color to allow their art to be the focal point, others used little splashes in decorative accessories. Either way, black is sophisticated, beautiful, chic and definitely back.

Left to Right: Clarke Tub, Rohl Sink, Kohler Shower Display

KBIS 2018

Surface Materials

Left: Artistic Tile’s Tuxedo Park Mosaic      Right: Florim’s Le Veneziane Floor Tiles

Fabrics ranging from classic to geometric make it easy to add a splash of sophistication.

From Left to Right: Schumacher’s Queen of Spain, Osborne & Little’s Versilia, & Osborne & Little’s Paseo Canetille

Quadrille’s Macoco Reverse wallpaper and fabric used together in the same color way make a stunning statement and add graphic visual interest. Neutral fabrics and accessories allow the pattern to tell the story.

And if choosing black fixtures, wallcoverings or fabrics seems too daunting or permanent, there are numerous ways to incorporate this trendy color. Feast your eyes on the inspiration below…

From Left to Right:

Row 1: Black Calla Lilies, Black Marble Lamp from Get Lit, Antique Desk from Blackman Cruz

Row 2: Art from Vintage Print Gallery, Decorative Jars from Tozai Home, Black and White Print “Sidekick” from Peter Fetterman Gallery,

Row 3: Mirror from R & Y Augousti, Black Lamp from Ro Sham Beaux, Black Lacquered Wreath from The Magnolia Company

Row 4: Side Table from Hickory Chair, Black and White Print “Gallery Ford Model V” from Peter Fetterman Gallery, Pillow from Ryan Studio

Last week I had the great pleasure of visiting the Downton Abbey exhibition in New York. I have been a fan of the show since first hearing the opening theme song and the beautiful Jacobean home we now know to be Highclere Castle filled the screen. And while the show is no longer in production, getting to  witness the craftsmanship of the costume and set designers made me “feel the feels” all over again. Below are just a few of my images of the interior sets and a few antique pieces I’ve curated from 1stDibs that emulate the spirit of Downton Abbey.

 

Downstairs Kitchen

The stove and ovens….complete with real steam!

A close up of the copper bakeware. What a functional yet attractive way to display your favorite bundt pans!

Distressed cabinetry laid with the practical yet beautiful crockery on display.

Antique Farmhouse Table – Perfect for prep work or gathering a family for Sunday breakfast.

Farmhouse Dresser – A handsome piece to display your creamware or blue and white serving pieces.

 

 

Carson’s Office

The exquisitely crafted costumes of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes on display in Mr. Carson’s office. An amazing partner’s desk was used on set for many of the scenes depicting life below stairs.

Edwardian Mahogany Partners Desk – Beautiful in a man’s library.

 

Upstairs Dining Room

If only I had a room large enough to seat this many people, I’d pull out all my silver and china and host a dinner party every night with a table set like this.

Set of Hepplewhite Style Dining Chairs – The shield back is classic and would never go out of style.

 

Lady Mary’s Bedroom

A bedroom fit for a lady…A luxurious bed, the warmth of a fireplace and an exquisite antique vanity.

Parquetry Empire Style Bed

 

Louis XVI Style Vanity

 

There are so many rooms we didn’t get to see at this exhibition and even a larger number of iconic pieces from the show that weren’t displayed. While I wasn’t disappointed by what I was able to see here, it left me yearning for more. I guess I’ll just have to plan a trip to Highclere in the future!

 

 

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It’s January and everyone waits excitedly for the fashion and home trend forecasts for 2018. But nothing tops the unveiling of Pantone’s Color of the Year. It influences everything from the runways to home decor and becomes the cornerstone of design trends for the next twelve months. This year, Pantone has chosen ULTRAVIOLET as its “2018 Color of the Year”.

“A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.” (image and excerpt from www.pantone.com)

Purple has long been associated with royalty, luxury, spirituality and creativity making it a stylish choice for designing interiors. Going forward, we’ll see even more shades of purple from lavender to amethyst become prominent in the interior design world. Below are a few ways to incorporate everyone’s new favorite color into the home.

PAINT

One of the easier and less expensive ways to add the COTY to your home is by using a great paint color to spruce up an old piece of furniture, an accent wall or even a whole room.

A striking front door. Photo: Pinterest.

A feminine library designed by Nathan Turner. Photo: Elle Decor.

 

WALLPAPER

If you are feeling bold, wallpaper is a fantastic way to express your personality. To start small, use a graphic wallpaper in a small powder room.

 Photo: This Old House.

Photo: Luxe Magazine

Using a hand painted lavender chinoiserie paper like the one shown in the dining room designed by Mary McGee (shown below) makes a sophisticated statement.

Photo: House Beautiful

 

ART

Sourcing the right piece of art is vital to the design of a space. The piece should resonate with you on an emotional level as well as compliment the decor of the space in which it is going to live. Below are a couple of pieces that incorporate the COTY and I’d love to display on my walls at home.

“Escaping Light” by Julia Contacessi

“Islands Off The Main Land” by Jane Schmidt at Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, CT

 

FURNITURE

There is nothing more luxurious than a velvet upholstered chair or sofa in a deep purple shade. It’s daring and so opulent….

A beautiful mix of a 16th Century home that has had all of the original details restored combined with modern furnishings in rich textures and deep shades. Photo from elledecor.it.

A modern interior with a clean-lined aubergine sofa. Photo from Dobkenize.com

New French style living room with sumptuous velvet upholstered daybed. Photo from Architectural Digest.

 

ACCESSORIES

If the above inspiration seems too daunting to incorporate into your own home, adding a few simple accessories to your decor will freshen up your space and allow you to enjoy this amazingly versatile color.

“Joy” Purple Neon Sign by Mary Jo McGonale at Sorelle Gallery, New Canaan, CT

Amethyst Tealight from ZGallerie

Christopher Spitzmiller Aurora Table Lamps in Wisteria

 

And lastly, you can never go wrong with fresh hydrangeas. Photo from Pinterest.

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