Last week, we were wrapping up a quick shopping trip for art and one-of-a-kinds in Italy, when we needed to get to back to France for the weekend. The least expensive flight actually left from Venice (I swear it did, Meg!), so we hopped on a train and decided to spend the night there. Having done no advance planning, we were a little taken aback by the number of people dressed in flamboyant medieval costumes … until we realized that we had actually timed our visit with Venice’s very celebrated Carnival!
Despite the lure of festivities, I’m not one for huge crowds so we chose to bypass most of the city’s tourist attractions and taking a cue from a very timely New York Times article about Venice’s “Cicchetti,” focused our 12 hours on food. (Read https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/travel/venice-cicchetti-small-plates.html) Cicchetti are the Italian equivalent of the Spanish Tapa, usually consisting of a marriage of fresh local flavors combined into delectable small bites.
Such a tease. Mother Nature gave us a couple gorgeous mild days lately which got everyone thinking about being outside – and then, just like that, we’ll be down to the 40s this week. (And a nod to our Northern readers – we know that doesn’t sound too terribly cold to you, but after you’ve lived in Atlanta for a while, anything below 50 degrees qualifies as “wintery”!) So, hurry up, Spring – we’re ready for you.
We’ve been itching to get out to our porches, patios and pergolas (or enjoy a meal al fresco or walk the fun Beltline) but while we wait for warmer temps to come our way, we’ve been stalking our fave publications and Insta for inspiration for those chic outdoor spaces that we’ll spend hours dreaming about. Take a peek:
Here in Atlanta, we’ve got the porch thing nailed down. The key is to treat is like any other room so it has comfortable seating and all the creature comforts that an interior room would have.
We’re not sure why but food and drink taste even better when they’re being enjoyed as the sun is going down or under the stars.
So, until Mother Nature decides to play fair, you better zip up that parka and keep dreaming! What’s your favorite kind of outdoor space? We’d love to hear.
One of our favorite trade shows is the tony Maison & Objet Salon held twice a year outside of Paris. This show is like none other. Despite the vast space of 7 football-field sized pavilions linked together around a courtyard, and the enormous crowds of professional shoppers on a mission, there is a quiet buzz that permeates the entire area, punctuated from time to time with the welcome pop of a champagne bottle. There is so much beauty to look at, from the artfully displayed new products to the gorgeously accessorized vignettes that it’s both exhilirating and overwhelming. Of course, we love every minute, as we hunt for new products and try to decipher what trends are happening in the European design world that may or may not translate across the ocean.
You’d have to be unconscious not to pick up on this year’s top trend: Shades of bamboo, rattan, and wicker seemed to spill out of every vignette, adorning the home furnishings area as well as the tabletop and accessories.
This is not a new trend, of course, and we’ve been avidly collecting pieces that span the last two hundred years. But there is a new spin on it, and we’re smitten: It’s all about the mix and how you use it! Too much of the same thing is boring, and a little can go a long way. But peppered in with other eras, designs and materials, a little wicker or bamboo or rattan is just awesome. See how some of our favorite designers are using the trend today:
Although we love the modern interpretations, we tend to gravitate more towards the vintage pieces, that show some wear, tear and patina, and are unique one-of-a-kinds. We had barely gotten off the plane and were headed bleary eyed into Paris on our last trip, when we spotted this table at the famous Marche aux Puces. Bingo! Our first purchase. We loved the shape, the legs and checkerboard top that was classic in the 1960’s and is now a collectable find.
For a long time, we’ve been thinking of getting rattan mirrors, but have held off because the new ones are so readily available. We vowed that we’d only buy unique one-of-a-kinds that have real age, patina and interest, which is what we found sprinkled along our travels during this last trip.
Now we can’t wait for our next container to arrive so that we can build our wall of mirrors: It’ll be a veritable Huff’ington Versailles a la bamboo!
So what’s our advice about all this? Have fun with it! Use it sparingly, mixed inwith other pieces, or go all out and do a whole room with it, as in this fabulous porch:
You can buy vintage signature pieces and mix them with new accessories, as in the vignette by Margaret Kirkland above. And I bet you never thought you’d hear THIS from us: Guess what store has a fabulous wicker pendant:
Remember that bamboo looks fabulous with art and wallpaper:
P.S. If you need help mixing it in with your own beautiful finds, we have a design team that’s ready to help.
Were you able to feast your eyes last December with a visit to Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles’ Home for the Holidays Showhouse? If you didn’t make it, you can catch up on all the design inspiration in their February issue.
We’re big fans of AH&L and love what they’re doing with their showhouse series: bringing together the best, brightest and most talented design talent in the Southeast. At their Home for the Holidays house, the design flowed effortlessly from room to room with each space complementing adjacent rooms. Not to mention, the house itself was pretty wonderful.
Takeaways? Color and pattern are in the spotlight again. Texture has a big role. Wallpaper is everywhere. And, beautifully patina-ed antiques play nicely with clean, modern pieces, which reinforces what we love to say around here: it’s all about the mix.
Take a peek at some of our favorite shots (and gorgeous photography from Jeff Herr & David Christensen):
We love how this spectacular show house embodies everything that’s going on in design right now – and we’re hoping the fun, colorful trends we’re seeing just keep on keeping on.
What’s your favorite design trend right now? We’d love to hear.
We always love receiving a new container of one-of-a-kinds and antiques, but perhaps it’s never more fun than when we’re doing it with newbies experiencing it for the first time. That’s what happened this week when two new employees (whom we will introduce you to at another time) were there to help, box cutters in hand, excited with every reveal.
Seeing it through the eyes of our newbies made us relive the thrill of the hunt in the first place. There were lots of oooh’s and aaaah’s as things got unpacked, and almost as many questions: Where are they from? What are some of our favorites? What’s the history behind them? What were they used for? How do you find this one? And (Sam Jones’ favorite question), was this bought before or after lunch?
The answer to Sam’s question is simple: Our treasures are uncovered often in the dark, at trade-only wholesale fairs that take place a few times a year very early in the morning, and come with a mad rush, laced with adrenalin and caffeine, that lasts for just two hours. If you haven’t found your treasure in the first two hours after the gates open, you’re too late. So to answer our newbies’ questions, here are some before and afters that will take you from “dans son jus” (what the French euphemistically call “in its juice” to define a piece that has never, for better or worse, been altered) to the cleaned up version that you see on the floor of our store.
One of our favorite leaps of faith was spotting this 1940’s Italian burled wood bar in the basement of a showroom in Paris.
When we saw this pair of doors stacked behind others in the back of a showroom, we weren’t really sure what they looked like from top to bottom.
Ditto for this pair of Trumeaux which we bought without seeing them from top to bottom.
So it was fun reliving our container through the eyes of our newbies and telling them the stories behind each piece as it came off the container. We always love to see all of our employees’ reactions and appreciate their support and excitement as each piece is unveiled and questions are asked. Of course we sprinkle our stories with embellishments of all the hard work, waking up at the crack of dawn when we’ve barely had any sleep, digging through snow, plowing through wet fields covered in so many layers we can barely walk with sniffing noses and rain soaked clothes.
P.S. We can’t wait for you to meet our newest arrivals — the goodies we brought off the container and the newbies we have working at the store!
Lately, I’ve been a little obsessed with a very Atlanta-centric trend: townhome living.
Just like that, we’re officially empty-nesters. One birdie is finishing college soon and the other chickadee actually has a real job, a real salary and a real place to live. Are they ever coming home to live? Probably not…which leaves us figuring out our next step.
After we sold the Nest and as a little experiment, we’re trying out townhome living, or vertical living, or whatever you want to call this nice scenario where you don’t have to worry about lawns or sprinkler systems or repainting the windows and doors. Zero maintenance is all of a sudden looking kind of sexy…and we have quickly found out there are plenty more positives to vertical living.
We’re renting a three bedroom, four bathroom unit. It seems the floorpans are all pretty much the same in vertical homes: garage, entry, bedroom/bath on the lower level; kitchen, dining and living on the next level and two more bedrooms on the third level. Do they come with four bedrooms? I haven’t seen many but I’m keeping my eyes peeled.
There are lots of thumbs-up for this vertical thing, especially for hubbie, who travels a lot and has an intense work schedule. So what do we love?
Most of the townhomes I’ve seen are a nice blank slate – which means plenty of opportunities for gorgeous art and interior decor. And we are loving our nice, open floorpan on the main level.
Zero maintenance is just that. Zero. If a shutter falls off in a tempest, you just email someone. Your little spot is always meticulously cared for and the community landscaping is perfect. After decades of taking care of a home (no small job), this is quite exhilarating.
You get to lock the door and walk away. Apart from our sweet, but needy cats, we can lock the door and fly off for as long as we’d like. We actually don’t do that very often, but it’s nice to think we could.
Instant neighbors: people who live in townhouses seem very fun and lively, or at least this is our current experience! Is that because they’re not worrying about all that maintenance? We have some neighbors who actually hang art in their garages. Everything is tidy and pristine.
I’m kind of kidding here but vertical living is good for your health: lots of stairs to go up and down on a daily basis. Most townhomes come with elevators but the unit we’re renting does not. And I don’t mind that at all – except after a big grocery store run.
Is there anything not to love about this easy lifestyle?
Being the project junkie I am, I admit I’m pretty picky about a lot of things and one of those is attractive and functional outdoor space. Atlanta’s mild climate is perfect for year-round outdoor living and we happily got used to a covered porch with a fireplace, which we used as our main living space ten months out of the year. The townhouse has a little deck, which we’ve gussied up as best we can…but I sure do miss that fireplace. Some newer units we’ve seen actually have rooftop terraces with fireplaces, so that’s promising if we decide to go down this path.
Do I have a potential list of to-do’s if this arrangement becomes permanent? You bet. I’ve already noted down a couple non-negotiables like my favorite super-dark stained floors, re-doing builder grade bathrooms with plenty of light marble and interesting tile and maybe, if I’m ever so lucky, a new kitchen appliance package. I’d love to really have at it with a gorgeous mix of decor – my few treasured antiques happily mixed with some fabulous new, clean pieces that would feel fresh and modern. And I’m seriously losing sleep over the art opportunities.
(And I’ll check in with my biz partner in crime, Ann, who ditched the single-family house years ago and is now the go-to expert for pied-a-terre renovations and living. We’re trying to persuade her to photograph her new little Midtown jewel box.)
So it’s a thumbs-up for a slightly more lazy lifestyle and we’re loving our little vertical experiment – stairs and all. But I can’t promise I’ll be able to ignore the lure of a ranch re-do or a custom cottage. Stay tuned!
A client asked our design team recently, after reading our blog post, Place Dauphine: A before and after Renovation, “Wow, how do you get all these great gigs?” We’re the first to tell you that we pinch ourselves when these come through, because they are great gigs, and we love doing them. But how does it happen when we are an ocean away? And how can we pull off the final reveal in just a few days? And what makes a great gig anyway?
This has come to mind again as we embark on another cross ocean renovation, this time for a house in the South of France that needs a refresh. We’ll start by revisiting the Place Dauphine renovation for a little inspiration.
So how does it work when you’re an ocean away? It takes lots of planning, a wonderful client who shares a million pictures along the way and has faith that it will all come together, some trusted vendors in the U.S. who help us navigate the perils of metric conversions, and an amiable hometown airline, who lets us carry on multiple bags of heavy home furnishings! Oh, and did we mention, a little vision and a lot of brawn? And, in the case of Place Dauphine, strong legs that got stronger with our Parisian workout, running up and down seven flights of stairs. (The beautiful elevator was installed, by the way, but not until AFTER we finished our job!)
So here is a glimpse of the process, from the early visits to the many emails back and forth with our client, to the final install (which included 41 pillows stuffed into multiple bags on Delta!).
After this, we started a long back and forth via email, sending inspirational images, and loads and loads of pictures of furniture selection.
Fast forward two more weeks, and we returned to Paris, armed with 41 pillows, a suitcase filled with decorative objects, books and anything else we could fit in at the last minute. When we arrived, our client had done the bulk of the work, and it looked great. With a few more adjustments, some furniture rearranging and the placement of accessories, it went from great to fabulous, within three days.
So are we up for it again? Bien sur! With lots of photos back and forth, dozens of Powerpoint presentations, and help from an accommodating hometown airline that doesn’t blink an eye when we have a few extra bags of curtains, rods, pillows and accessories, we’re there! Because there’s nothing we love more than using art and design (and a little vision and brawn) to transform a space into something fabulous, whether it’s in Paris, Provence, Peoria or Palmetto. It comes down to working with great clients and loving what we do. And that’s what leads to great gigs and great digs!
P.S. If you can’t do a Paris apartment but you love the look … we’ve just unpacked another container of one-of-a-kind rare finds from Paris that our team of designers will happily share!