Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rooms that Inspire Me

I get excited when I see interiors that have character and soul, and personally I don't think there's a better way to do this than to mix old and new together. To me a room needs a little bit of history and detail to create this, because after all a home should be a home and not just a display space. I love this room from 'Dream Rooms' by Andreas Von Einsiedel because:
  • The space has combined really traditional furniture and elements and in a modern way;
  • The portraits across the wallpaper only enhance it and create a wonderful contrast of styles;
  • The combination of Louis XV and XVI furniture keeps it interesting;
  • Colours are gorgeous, soft blues and grey tones that contast with the red, black and just a touch of gold to lift it.

I LOVE this console from Provencal Escapes by Caroline Clifton-Mogg and it reminds me of a beautiful italian painted centre table I have coming back from France. The floor in this photo is incredible - ah if only I had a stone floored French chateau! I love the geometric, olive green floor against the curves of this day chaise. I have an obsession at the moment with big old portraits. The red feather duster just adds a splash of colour and is oh so fitting with the style of the room!

I have been searching for one of the painted Louis XVI marble top tables for ages. My parents have for years had a similar one as their bedside table. Unfortunately they don't look like giving it up any time soon so I will just have to keep on looking.

I just think the combination of old and new in this room has been done so well. It's so clean and crisp, and doesn't have any of the feel of stuffy antiques that so many people seem to think is unavoidable if you introduce antiques into a room. But sure enough, that 'clean' settee is a beautiful antique. (Dream Rooms)

Dream Rooms - Adreas von Einsiedel

The Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee Billiard Table

For me, billiard tables have always conjured up thought of green velvet, legs, green felt and little else, and not being a billiards player they usually left me feeling ... well, rather uninspired. That is until I saw this one at Masterpiece on the Wick Antiques stand! The big tall thing that looks like a door in the background is actually the scorer and behind the door is the cue stand. The table was made by Orme & Sons Ltd in 1887 and was commissioned for Queen Victoria's Jubilee Exhibition in 1887. The concept behind the table was to record the historical succession connecting "the principle links between Her Late Majesty, Queen Victoria, with William the Conqueror, and thus inferentially with Charlemagne from whom William the Conqueror was himself descended: Also by the Panels, in which are allegorised the principle Colonies and Dependencies, to illustrate the wealth, diversity, and breadth, of the British Empire."

The friezes have been decorated with quotations from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Scott, and Byron and portraits of William of Normandy, Henry I, Henry II, John, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Edward IV, Elizabeth of York, James I and Charles I.
To see more pieces of this quality visit

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Oh avid antique lovers, feast your eyes on this!
Masterpiece London is the cream of arts and antique exhibitions and their mission was to hand pick the invitees and provide them only the best of the best. My second last day in the UK and I was fortunate enough to have been given an invitation to attend. June 2010 was the first year Masterpiece has been run, and was designed to showcase the best there is to offer of art and antiques of all periods and styles. My mind was blown from before I even walked in the door, although I didn't quite realise why until too late. If you haven't noticed already the very first image above of the building, is actually a marquee. Of course clever as I am I failed to notice this until inside, and instead stood marvelling at such a lovely brick building. Unfortunately the penny didn't drop inside either, I still thought I was in a building. It wasn't until a dealer started talking about the 'time it had taken to set this tent up', that I started to realise there was something I just wasn't getting. One very nice man obviously saw the dumb confusion on my face and very kindly whispered in my ear and pointed up to the slightly transparant ceiling where a sea of scaffolding could just be made out. Well done Jess.

Strolling around though it was hardly surprising the place was amazing. I really just could not believe it. Never have I seen anything like some of what was in this fair, and whether the pieces are your taste or aren't, at the very least you have to appreciate the them for their age, their quality and their detail. Like Bonhams bed to the left from the Masterpiece catalogue.

The fair featured some of the worlds most famous clock makers, like Tompion, Patek Philippe and Quare.
This was my particular favourite. It was a massive gold clock wheel, and sitting above it was a giant grasshopper, and as the hand swung one way, the grasshopper hopped forward in a continuous circle as if stuck forever chasing his tail.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Secret Garden

One of my last sunny days in the UK was a trip out to see Martin Scorey, the sculpturer who I've posted about before. It's always one of my favourite stops, because Martin who works from home has transformed his garden into a little paradise in the middle of a city. It's a little bit like The Secret Garden, from the outside you'd never guess what lies behind. Once you walk through the doors however, little 'Martin Creations' appear out of nowhere from every corner of the house and garden. Little birds peep from a log resting in the kitchen, small carved boats sit in the sun room looking out onto the garden, and sitting magnificent in front of the garden wall are some of his beautifully carved blue whales. Above is one of Martin's chairs, which you can find peeking out from corners of his garden as you enter.
This gorgeous bird for the garden was hidden in behind some shrubs. The harder you look in the garden the more you find. Metal lillypads look up at you from amongst the bushes and right in the midst of it all are four enormous garden chairs where you can sit and admire.

My photos don't really do the garden justice and as is always the way, my camera battery died just as I had found some of the best treasures. But I guess it is a like a secret garden so meant to keep some treasures quiet.

Martin makes only a few sculptures each year and all are unique. I have bought a couple back in this next container but he does do commission work as well. You can ask about this at Martin's work is being featured in gallery's across Europe, one of which is Sculpture Park in the UK. Worth a look!
I think the best bit of the day though was when Martin's dog, a massive Rottweiler which I had never thought
was a particularly affectionate breed of dog, jumped on me and put his big puppy paws around my neck in a hug. He had been abused by his previous owner and was obviously lapping up every bit of attention he could get.

The afternoon finished with a hunt around my uncle's (antique dealer) warehouse to see what, if anything I could scavenge. Alas it was all far and above my price range but I did at the very least take a photo of this AMAZING table. Phenomenal I don't think I've ever seen anything like it in my life. I've taken a few close-ups, particularly of the top for you to drool over.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Farm and a Rocking Chair

Another day, another adventure! The south of England is the destination, to a little farm I have never been to in the middle of nowhere and full of treasures. Most places we buy are so unexpected, the major cities would probably make up 3 days of the trip as a whole, and not much more. The treasures are generally somewhere you least expect it, and you really do have to sift to find it. The fact that 99% of things have not been restored and are sitting under centuries of dirt makes it even harder.
This little farm was particularly beautiful, and the inside was like stepping back in time. You drove in through these gates, along this leafy drive and arrived at a 16th, 17th, 18th century barn? Walk in through the doors and it's all there.

I really loved the rocking horse in this room but I found the most amazing armoire in the next room that I had to have and so rocking horse was quickly forgotten about.
Not your typical armoire either. This one was huge, looked Spanish and definitely 19th century with the most elaborate carving of leaves and flowers all over the front. It wasn't polished, and from memory almost looked as if it had been limed. It was a real country farmhouse piece, ideal for a big kitchen or lounge area. It's actually one of the only pieces didn't take a photo of, which while frustrating means I can get excited all over again when it comes out of the container.

We ambled through the rooms. At one stage I had this really weird feeling I was being watched by something. Looked up and sure enough sitting on the wall was this massive deer? The photo doesn't do it justice, but he was enormous and so, so beautiful. He looked as if he was alive. Hard to believe someone could kill something so gorgeous.

The day turned up quite a lot. One of the many was this pretty little 19th century French carved Louis XVI settee. Perfect for a bedroom!

My most exciting find however was this rocking chair. I LOVE IT! Just a warning here though...I could go on and on, and never stop.
Walked into the room and it was sitting on top of a table all by itself. I fell in love. It's a very fine quality 19th century, circa 1860 English gilded bent-wood rocking chair.

The gilt on this particular chair has almost completely worn off but there is evidence of it in small quantities all over the chair so that there is this beautiful patterned combination of paint or gesso and very soft, pale gold. The gilt, along with the fabric and shape are some of the clues to the exceptional quality of the piece. Particularly considering rocking chairs were never generally gilded.

They created this amazing shape by heating the wood in a steam box, until it was malleable, and then bent the wood into shape. When the structure cooled down again it became rigid and maintained the new form that it had been bent into. The shape on this one is particularly beautiful.

The fabric on the chair is original and I think is what most caught my eye. I'm sure one day I will have to watch while someone pulls it off and re-upholsters it, but I love it just as it is.
It was once obviously a really rich, soft velvet but has now been worn in areas, to a faded smooth surface. Yet another of the details I think just adds to it's beauty. When I was small, like most kids had a teddy bear and he had been used so much that his fur had matted and stuck together, and quite simply no longer really looked like fur. But when I bent him over and looked under his legs, his original fluffy fur was still underneath. This chair was like that. Everywhere you looked there was a little clue as to how it once would have been.

When you looked inside the deep buttoning, you could still see the velvet's former glory, where time and overuse hadn't been able to touch it and it was still soft and brightly coloured. But the combination of the worn velvet with the soft just created the most fantastic texture.
Anyone who appreciates textiles will surely have to appreciate this. Running up the centre of the rocking chair was this exquisite embroidery that had faded out but you could still see the flowers and the leaves.
I guess it's a piece that you either love or hate. I quite obviously love it I can't stop blathering, but to me it's so filled with character and age and history I couldn't look past it. I hope you like it as much as I do.