Friday, November 25, 2011

Great Resources - Outlet Shopping for Furniture

As my husband will attest, I can look at furniture all day. And when I am on the road I never miss an opportunity to scout out a potential resource, shop or sale I have read about. And holiday travel is not exempt - last Christmas' trip to New York included visits to museums, the theater and an industrial park in New Jersey so I could pick up a piece of furniture at the Chelsea Textiles warehouse sale (FYI - it is going on right now!)

So, Tuesday had me in Connecticut for the day where the Lillian August outlet in South Norwalk is conveniently located off Interstate 95. The vast space had a huge inventory of upholstered pieces and case goods in various styles, including designs from other well known companies. Following are a few favorites currently in stock.

Oly Studio's Sophie chair upholstered in raffia.

The Dromedary loveseat from John Derian in Libeco Lagae linen.

This arm chair, round-back dining chair, trestle table and chandelier look like they are right out of Restoration Hardware's Belgian-influenced collection.

There was a room full of oversize mirrors.

This adorable Lillian August slipper chair almost come home with me.

I fell in love with this beautiful bookcase - if only I had a wall long enough to accommodate it.

The outlet had several upholstered pieces by Lee, a good source for well-crafted, American made furniture. This slip-covered chair is very shabby chic.

There was a large selection of dining chairs, mostly in sets of six.

The outlet is also a good resource for accessories. They had a nice selection of  Chelsea Textiles needlepoint pillows.

 Antler decor - very trendy right now.

 A charming Carvers Guild Gothic Twig mirror.

There was also a selection of Pine Cone Hill bedding. You had to dig around a little, but the hunt is half the fun of outlet shopping.

And the easiest face lift for a sofa - new throw pillows. There were a lot of cheerful options.

Outlet shopping for furniture is great for instant gratification - if you need a new sofa and can't wait 6 to 12 weeks - but it can be hit or miss so don't go with any expectations. I recommend having measurements for the size of anything you have in mind and of the space you want to fill, and if you have them, swatches of any fabrics you might be trying to work with. Safe travels!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Front Halls, Foyers and Entry Ways

Last week my sister-in-law, recently relocated to Texas, asked for some lighting ideas for the front hall of her new home, and suggested a post on entrance halls. Transplanted from Brookline, Massachusetts to a house in a different style compared to her former New England setting, it sounds like the opportunity to try something new. And even if you aren't in the midst of big changes, something as easy as switching a light fixture can make a dramatic difference in a room without a lot of effort or expense.

From House Beautiful's website I culled a few photos of  front halls, foyers and entry ways, decorated in different styles, and followed them up with potential fixtures from Circa Lighting - one of my favorite resources for hanging lights.

In an open, square entry...

House Beautiful

A long, narrow hall...

House Beautiful


A more contemporary look...

House Beautiful

And to recreate a little New England wherever you are...

 House Beautiful

Lastly, a few ideas for styling your hall whether you have a console, chest of drawers or center table...

Photos House Beautiful

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things - Gustavian Furniture

Seven years ago, during a trip to Norway, I had a decorating epiphany while shopping with my sister to furnish her new home in Oslo. I was totally entranced by the neutral color palettes and painted furniture we saw, the mix of formal and informal elements, and with the liberal deploying of candles.

 photo Living With Light

Interiors were conceived to be free of clutter, spare and perfectly serene.

photo Living With Light

I also sensed kindred spirits in the Norwegians in their embrace of nature and a life lived outdoors. Even in mid-November the sidewalk tables outside of cafes were filled with locals enjoying their coffee in the fresh air (warmed by nearby heaters.) Whenever possible, the outdoors is brought in.

 photo Swedish Country Interiors

Soaking up the atmosphere I was struck by how similar the climate and light, and lack of it in winter, were to that at home.  I had found my people and they were living my life - only better. It seemed to me the Scandinavian aesthetic would translate perfectly to Vermont. 

photo Swedish Interiors

photo Swedish Country Interiors

When I got back I bought every book on Scandinavian style I could find. Within a few weeks I was painting everything shades of grey and beige, ordering linen by the mile, and buying votive candles in bulk. I also cleared out every closet, cabinet and drawer, shelf and tabletop, getting rid of anything I did not use regularly. And soon my general crush on all things Nordic crystallized into a full-blown love affair with Swedish Gustavian furniture.

Photo Classic Swedish Interiors

The passion hasn't died.

photo Swedish Interiors

photo Swedish Interiors

photo Swedish Interiors

designer Katrin Cargill

designer Katrin Cargill

What in my past, you might ask, rendered me susceptible to developing total adoration for a period of furniture design? In Gustavian style I see the French and neo-classical furniture I admired in the houses I grew up in, but without the fussiness and distilled to the most pleasing form. I can have beautiful furniture that is suitable to how I live and where I live.

My Grandmother's chair
My chair

This palatial dining room was the inspiration for my own. Of course, it had to be translated to a room of much smaller proportions in a modest, 100-year-old house in a Vermont village.

Here is how I interpreted the look at home. The dining table comes from my favorite source for reproduction Gustavian furniture, Country Swedish. The painted cupboard was inherited; it belonged to my great-grandmother and is a late 19th-century French reproduction. The chandelier is from Bella Figura. The chairs are upholstered in a Brunschwig & Fils check.

To find some inspiration of your own, a reading list: Living with Light: Decorating the Scandinavian Way by Gail Abbott, Classic Swedish Interiors by Lars Sjoberg, and both Swedish Interiors and Swedish Country Interiors by  Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems.