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Gray Antiques and Interiors

Special Gifts

 

Gift suggestions abound this time of year......here we join the chorus with our suggestions for gifts that are a joy to shop for and a pleasure to give and to receive.  In our minds, gift giving should be thoughtful, meaningful, and always a pleasure (never a chore....otherwise, why bother?)  We prefer to gift antiques and vintage, where possible.  Otherwise, we select gifts that are of the highest quality and craftsmanship.  All of our suggestions reflect this standard.  And, of course, beautiful gift wrapping is a must.

For special friends, mothers, sisters......

We love Cire Trudon Taper candles, from the oldest candle maker in the world (photo above). Made in France, dripless, and in an array of gorgeous colors, these are truly special. We prefer Taupe because they are the perfect gray/pumice color that we adore.  The Kaki green is also perfect for a Holiday table. And they arrive beautifully boxed and beribboned. Shop in New York or at www.trudon.com

D. Porthault embroidered cocktail napkins or hand towels.  Exquisite hand embroidery. No explanation needed. Photo by Erik Kvalsik for the book "D. Porthault The Art of Luxury Linens,' by Brian D. Coleman.  P.S. The book itself is also a lovely gift. Shop in New York or at www.dporthault.com

We love the Aerin decorative home collection and are pleased to carry a selection in our shop...her brass match strikers in either the cone or sphere shape are chic gifts.  We also love her picture frames, which are unique and of heirloom quality. Available in our shop.  Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

Cashmere wraps by  Heidi Wynne are a perennially elegant gift.  I have them in multiple colors and they are a year round staple for travel, chilly afternoons, or breezy beach days. Photo by Heather Clawson, Habitually Chic blog.  www.heidiwynne.com

 

For the Gardener....

We love antique and vintage garden pieces.  Our pair of cast iron garden urns can be used either indoors in a garden room or outdoors.  Such a handsome gift. Available in our shop. Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

 

For the Book Lover...

There are many great books to choose from each season but why not give vintage books that are of interest to the recipient, whether it be art, design, fashion, gardening or cooking. We carry a  great selection of vintage books in our shop. Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

 

For the Entertainer ......

As any entertainer knows,one can never have too much vintage china, silver, decorative tabletop pieces and bar ware. We have a great and ever changing selection in our shop, including this set of vintage Wedgwood Queensware. Email us with inquiries or shop Saturdays in December, 11 am to 3 pm.

 

For the men in your life....

We only need shop at one place...Sid Mashburn.  Sid and his wife Ann's shops are a delight to visit.....always beautifully curated, the clothing and accessories always unique and high quality, and the staff are the best.  Last year I gave our boys each a leather belt with a unique brass buckle.  So much nicer than electronics! And of course we are quite partial to their gray gift boxes which look smashing under any tree. Shops in DC, Atlanta, LA, Houston and Dallas or www.sidandannmashburn.com.

 

For the Food Lover.....

For those who love food and do not necessarily need one more material good, give a fine dining experience.  Gift certificates to a favorite restaurant are a wonderful gift.  We love giving gift certificates from of one our favorite places in Baltimore, Petit Louis Bistro. 4800 Roland Avenue, Baltimore.  www.petitlouis.com

 

Delicious macarons from Laduree are an elegant and chic gift for anyone.  There are now Laduree shops in Union Station or Georgetown in Washington,DC.  You can also shop at their chic UES shop in New York (get in line!) or at www. laduree.com.

 

 

For the Jewelry Lover....

Estate Jewelry is always preferred for that unique and one of a kind piece.  One year I received from my husband my treasured estate gold charm bracelet found at auction.  And, while I may never be able to have the budget for it, I will always covet a Schlumberger for Tiffany and Co bangle (a girl can dream).

 And, remember, do not forget to gift wrap with care (preferably while enjoying a glass of champagne).  The beautiful gift wrap is by Pierre Frey. Cheers to a restful, meaningful and joyful Holiday. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

While visiting the campus of Duke University we were able to explore just a small  portion of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.  The Gardens were established by Mary Duke Biddle in honor of her mother Sarah in 1938 after her mother's original gardens were flooded. Today the gardens cover 55 acres and are free to the public.  In addition to interesting plants and flowers, the gardens are filled with unique fountains, statues and sculpture.  Above is the Perennial Allee.   A cool respite on a very hot and steamy North Carolina day.

"Melludere" Mother of Pearl Rose, Grandiflora, 2007 in the Rose Garden.

My favorite spot, the Garden's Tool House, designed by the esteemed American landscape designer Ellen Biddle Shipman in 1937.  Shipman also designed one of my favorite  gardens, the English Garden at Stan Hywet Hall in Akron, Ohio, established in the same time period. 

A fountain behind the Garden Shed.

Busy bee in a "MEIkanoro" Sunshine Daydream Rose, Grandiflora Richardier, 2001.

A new pergola built in honor of Gardens Board Chair Cynthia Brodhead, 2017.

 

Details......

A fantastic new stickwork sculpture, "The Big Easy," by Patrick Dougherty, a North Carolina artist, built with sticks collected from the Duke Forest earlier this year. 

Fabulous Lilium Regale...antidote to so many store bought varieties.

"God Almighty First Planted a Garden and Indeed It Is the Rarest of Human Pleasures" Francis Bacon.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

The Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks

Dumbarton Oaks, located on the highest point of the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, is a 27 acre oasis of gardens and a Federal style Mansion.  The property was the home of Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss in the1920s and 30s.   Bliss worked with famed landscape architect Beatrix Farrand to transform what was once farmland into a series of terraced gardens, including an ellipse, a rose garden, a pool, an orangery and a cutting garden.  In 1940, the property was given to Harvard University, Bliss's alma mater, and today serves as a Research Institute in the studies of garden design, landscape architecture, Byzantine Art, and Pre-Columbian art.  The Gardens will be closed July 10, 2017 through March 15, 2018 to undergo an extensive upgrade of their original irrigation systems. A visit before then if you are in the DC area is highly worth it for the properties' breathtaking views and glorious gardens.  We enjoyed an evening of cocktails in the Garden as part of the European Month of Culture....follow our journey below.

 The approach to the Federal style Mansion, which now houses a Museum. 

 

Urn envy....there are numerous breathtaking urns and statuary throughout the gardens.

The Orangery served as a lovely gathering place for cocktails.

The Urn Terrace with an urn modelled after an 18th century French original in terra cotta that was too fragile for Washington winters.

The Rose Garden, the Bliss' favorite part of the gardens, was in all of its glory this May evening.

The cutting garden has two of these stone buildings.

Another lovely architectural moment.

The Pebble Garden Fountain, based on Villa I Tatti outside of Florence, Italy.

A double ring of hornbeams encircles an 18th century Provencal fountain in the Ellipse.

A pretty little path alongside the cutting garden....there are as many such casual moments as there are formal throughout the property.

A final glimpse at another such casual moment...perhaps my favorite among so many beautiful moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icon, Henry Moore

Those who have followed us for some time know that we love sculpture and that Henry Moore (1898-1986) is one of our favorite sculptors. He also has a trove of drawings that served as a basis for his sculptures, as well as stand alone work.  Interestingly, Cezanne's nudes were an early influence on his work.  His sculptures are iconic and grace the best museums in the world but recently he has had renewed attention given that the British stalwart Burberry chose to feature a retrospective of his work as part of their Fall 2017 exhibit.  This has led to a collaboration with design publication Cabana, whose latest issue features three different covers of Moore's drawings. The above photo is of a signed Moore lithograph in our personal collection, "Man and Woman", 1973-74, found at auction, of course.   And we can continue to dream about owning a sculpture.......

 Henry Moore in his studio.

 

At the Baltimore Museum of Art

 

 

 At the Burberry Fall 2017 Show. 

At the Cleveland Museum of Art

 

 

A cover of the newest Issue of Cabana.

 

 

At the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh

 

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

Another great cover of the new Cabana.  This one is my favorite. 

 

 

Wicker Chic

We love wicker in interiors and in fashion...beautiful, practical, timeless.  From Upper East Side Townhouses to Palm Beach Casual to the South of France ....and Everyplace  in Between.  In honor of Spring, here are a few of our favorite wicker chic looks that inspire us.

 

Marella Agnelli was the master in using wicker in the most elegant of interiors.  Here her home in Marrakech.

 Jane Birkin forever sealed the wicker basket as a fashion accessory.

Our favorite modern day wicker inspiration is Atelier Vime, of France, which specializes in vintage wicker.  Their Instagram account @ateliervime is one of our favorites.

 Vintage wicker mirror from Atelier Vime at the Aerin shop in Southhampton.

 

 

One of our favorite wicker baskets in our personal collection acquired at auction from the estate of CZ Guest's Templeton.

Classic. Wicker in Palm Beach.  Designer and eponymous shop owner Amanda Lindroth's apartment in Palm Beach.  Photo by Jonny Valiant.

 

 

 Hermes wicker Kelly bag...le sigh.

 

 

Another master of wicker is Hubert de Givenchy.  Here the pool house at Le Clos Fiorentina in the South of France.

 

 

More Atelier Vime chic.

 

 

Bring the outdoors in.....wicker chairs by Restoration Hardware in our sun room.

 

 

And no discussion of wicker is complete without Bunny Mellon's love of baskets.  Here her back hall leading out to her garden in Manhattan, proving wicker is always beautiful in Town and Country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening Chic: Great Garden Rooms

"Some people like to look at gardens, I like to live them." Marella Agnelli.

Conservatories, garden rooms, sun porches.....these are our favorite rooms to design and admire.  Plants and flowers thrive among open windows, plenty of light, wicker, floors of tile, painted wood and sisal, along with beautiful planters and garden objets.  We call it Gardening Chic! As we prepare for our booth at the Ladew Garden Festival on May 6, here are the garden rooms and their contents that inspire us.  (Photo credits when found are noted.) Above, Marella Agnelli's Villa Frescot in Turin, Italy. Photo by Oberto Gilli.

A modern chic take at Lasata, Delphine and Reed Krakoff's estate on Long Island. Photo by Ivan Terestchenko.

CZ Guest's Templeton on Long Island.  We will have several finds from Templeton acquired at auction available at the Ladew Festival! Photo by Michael Mundy. 

Hubert de Givenchy's Le Jonchet. This room has inspired all others.

Carolyn Roehm's Weatherstone in Connecticut. Photo by Lesley Unruh.

Daniel Roumaldez for Tory Burch's home in the Hamptons. Photo by Norman Jean Roy.

Pure elegance.  Bruce Budd for clients' Houston home. Photo by Bjorn Wallander.

Old world grandeur at Lorenzo Castillo's Madrid home. Photo by Simon Upton.

The visionary Furlow Gatewood in Americus, Georgia.  Photo by Max Kim Bee.

The great Bunny Williams and John Rosselli's home in Connecticut.  Photo by Tony Vu.

And of course, the ultimate in Gardening Chic, Bunny Mellon's Oak Spring Farm Library in Middleburg, Virginia where rare volumes about gardening live among Rothkos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladew Garden Festival, May 6, 2017

Spring has arrived and it is opening weekend at Ladew Gardens! The Gardens, located in Monkton,Maryland, were established by New Yorker Harvey Ladew in 1929 and originally served as his fox hunting retreat. He transformed the property to become one of the most outstanding Topiary Gardens in America.  Later in life he established the gardens as a public garden for all to enjoy.  The 22 distinct gardens, topiaries and buildings are a mecca for garden lovers.  (Above is the Croquet Lawn.)

 

On Saturday, May 6 Ladew will hold its 9th Annual Garden Festival, with over 45 vendors from throughout the Northeast selling unique plants and garden antiques.  We are thrilled to be a vendor for the first time this year with our friend Oriet's Fine Art.  We have been acquiring great antique and vintage garden and conservatory pieces for this show and cannot wait to share them!  Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.  Monkton is approximately 30 miles from Baltimore in Baltimore's beautiful horse farm country.  Ladew Gardens is a destination in and of itself but why not a make a weekend of it and visit many of the beautiful places Baltimore has to offer?  We would be happy to make suggestions for places to stay, shops and museums to visit, and restaurants to enjoy! Below are images from last year's Garden Festival.  It was a rainy and chilly day but, as all good gardeners know, a little rain is not a deterrent from getting out there!  Visit www.ladewgardens.com for tickets.

Beautiful moment on the property.

 

A favorite booth.  Pennoyer Newman from NYC. They will be at the Show again this year.  Their planters are show stoppers!

The topiares the Gardens are known for.

My favorite garden furniture booth, Darrell Dean Antiques.  They will be at the show this year as well. Want these tables!

More Darrell Dean.

Stone Faux Bois in the Azalea Garden.  Yes please.

Not be missed.  Atlock Farms famous myrtle Topiaries.

A planter arrangement of my own at my house made with ivy and geraniums I purchased at the Festival from Peace Tree Farms, a beautiful plant vendor with unique plants.  Cannot wait to see them again this year!

Booths are also inside the Barn, which served as Harvey Ladew's art studio.  This is the booth of Orient's Fine Art.  Oriet represents many fine artists and she has a wonderful and fresh eye.  Gray Antiques will be sharing this space this year and we are planning a great display!

Harvey Ladew in his Art Studio in the Barn.

The amazing chandelier in his studio depicted above is still hanging in the Barn today. Not to be missed!  Please join us May 6 or become a Friend of the Festival and join us for the opening night cocktail party under the chandelier and preview shopping Friday, May 5!  We would love to see you!

 

 

The National Gallery of Art East Wing

I spent a wonderful afternoon last week visiting the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art East Wing, which houses it's Modern and  Contemporary collection.  The East Wing was built in 1978 under the patronage of Paul Mellon, among others, and was designed by I.M. Pei.  The building underwent a major renovation last year and it is now much more open and the galleries are more light filled.  The musuem also has integrated many American works from the Corcoran Museum, which sadly closed in 2014.  One is greeted by a soaring entrance with a large Calder (above).  The perfect space for such an important collection.  A must visit when in Washington, DC (not all of DC is about politics, thank goodness).   I hope you enjoy my favorites. 

Jean Dubuffet, "Site a l'homme assis", 1969-1984.

Love this large scale piece by Robert Motherwell, "Reconciliation Elegy", 1978.

There is an entire gallery dedicated to the works Mark Rothko (a favorite of the Mellons)  "Untitled",1949. 

A collection of sculptures by Constantin Brancusi.

A favorite Henri Matisse, "Palm Leaf, Tangier", 1912.

A massive Henry Moore at the entrance. "Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece",1976-1978.

The patrons and designers of the East Wing.

 

 

 

Bath Design

 

Our 2016 renovation included a Master Bath addition.  Baths can be boring if you approach the project as simply about hardware, tile, and fixtures.  But now, there are many options to personalize and pretty up the space.  Below are our tips and ideas for Bath Design.

Architectural plans for the second floor addition that includes a dressing room and bath.  The original bath in our 1924 home was a closet size space that barely housed a single pedestal sink, toilet, and built in tub/shower.  That space,along with adjacent closet space, became the dressing room, with a new addition housing the new master bath.

Exterior view of the construction. The addition is seamless to the original 1924 colonial revival. 

Selecting tiles and fixtures......it is hard for me to get excited about these pieces but if you find great sources it makes it a pleasure.  Our tile was sourced at Hunt Valley Tile here in Baltimore, where we went with classic white subway tile and marble flooring and accents. 

I did not want built-ins, as I wanted a feel of a room with pieces of furniture.  After visiting a few local show rooms, we decided to go with Restoration Hardware. Their pieces are well made, beautiful and excellently displayed on their website.  When there were a few issues with orders, their customer service was impeccable. (Many may not realize that RH has acquired the bath fixture temple that is known as Waterworks.)  I love our gray modular double sink with carrara marble top. 

Bathtub and hardware from RH.

The double mirrors were sourced at One King's Lane.  I spent a lot of time looking for antique mirrors but had a hard time finding an exact fit in a pair that did not break the bank.  I remain on the hunt however! But these do have a vintage feel. 

English majolica in a seaweed and shell pattern......there are many ways to use antique and vintage decorative accessories, even in a bath.  This little dish makes me smile each morning.

 

 

The shower....

Shower wall alcove.  I laughed recently when I saw a post about making these alcoves large enough for extra large shampoo bottles to please a client.  My husband and the builder made the same suggestion. This was met by my silence.  No words needed.  Men. Pretty products are necessary in my book. 

The stand alone tub from RH.  The French cane chair was found at auction from the estate of CZ Guest's Templeton. This is where I am found on many evenings. 

Pretty accessories and flowers are a must. 

When one has to get out the door each day, it is a pleasure to prepare here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exquisite Partnership: Jean Schlumberger and Mrs. Rachel Lambert Mellon

In 1955, Tiffany and Company hired Van Day Truex, the former head of the Parsons School of Design, to revive its collection and bring a fresh approach to the brand.  Seeking to introduce  more inventive and modern pieces,Truex recruited French designer Jean Schlumberger in 1956 . After meeting in 1954, Schlumberger developed an iconic relationship with Mrs. Rachel "Bunny" Lambert Mellon and she became his most valuable patron and inspiration. Her exquisite taste and love of gardening and botanicals particularly inspired his works. The Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond has a wonderful exhibit of Mrs. Mellon's collection of Schlumberger pieces.  For lovers of beauty and creativity, the exhibit, which runs through June 18, is a must.  Below are my favorite pieces from this exquisite partnership.

Jean Schlumberger.  Photo courtesy Of Tiffany and Co.

So many exquisite pieces but this is my favorite: Dahlia Hidden Watch, 1958. Citrines, diamonds, and 18 karat gold.  Gold branches connect seven dahlia blooms, citrines cover the the center of six of the flowers, while the watch face is covered by a cluster of diamonds.  This bracelet like watch is only one of three known examples of this design.

Clam Shell Compact, 1958.Sapphires, emeralds,turquoise, and 18kt gold.

Iconic Schlumberger enamel bangle with turquoise.

Inspired by a Paris flea market find, Schlumberger developed his own line of woven metal basketry, this one in 18 karat gold with garnets.

Woven bombe ring with sapphires, 1956.

Flower Pot, 1960. Made with a rare 94 carat Kashmir sapphire.  When presented with the stone Bunny Mellon suggested its use not in a piece of jewelry, but in a flower pot objet.  It is in a real terra cotta pot from her greenhouse!

Concept sketches for the Flower Pot displayed next to the piece.

The VMFA has done a wonderful job with this exhibit...here a table with examples of Schlumberger's drawings alongside materials for patrons to sketch on their own.

 

A lovely tribute at the exhibit to Mrs.Mellon.  Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson, in her garden at Oak Spring Farm, 1962.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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