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Gray Antiques and Interiors

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substance and Style: The Influentials Part Two

Two posts ago I wrote about those people and things that have influenced my design style and inspire me.  But the list became too long. As I believe in sharp editing, I decided to break the list into two (besides, having Bunny Mellon and Lee Radziwill in the same feature truly does not give them proper justice.)  But now, as I write, of course I have decided I need  a Part Three!  Herewith My Influentials, Part Two:

 Lee Radziwill.  Of Course.  More so than her sister in my humble opinion because she had and continues to have more freedom to live life as she sees fit.  Her fashion and design sense is everything.  Here in her iconic Paris apartment, 2003.  Photo by Mario Testino for Vogue.

Billy Baldwin.  Legend. Baltimore Boy.  Decorator to Jackie Kennedy, Diana Vreeland, and Bunny Mellon.  His sophisticated and elegant style looms large. 

 Miranda Brooks.  Genius designer for some of the most naturally elegant gardens in the world.  Seen here in the garden she designed for Anna Wintour.  So fresh and inviting. Photo by Ricardo Labougle for T Magazine.

 

 

Art Museums.  I do not get my design inspiration from completed rooms on Houzz or Pinterest or perfect shelter magazine spreads.  It is much more organic, starting with art and architecture.  Here the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art, designed by John Russell Pope.  It is one mile from my house and it is free! I visit often, even if for only an hour, to refresh my eyes.

Heather Clawson and her Habitually Chic Blog.  THE original blog that combined design, fashion, art and culture, Heather Clawson has inspired many, including me, to blog.  I still look forward to her smart posts each and every day, which, in our saturated social media culture, speaks volumes about her eye and ability to keep it fresh. 

Carolina Herrera.  The epitome of chic elegance at any age and a strong business woman.  Her runway shows at the Frick Museum are hands down always the most beautiful of the American shows. 

 

 

Albert Hadley.  The original.  Often referred to as the "Dean of American Decorators," he has influenced so many great designers and creatives who inspire me today, including Bunny Williams and Christopher Spitzmiller.  Deserving of an entire other post.  Photo by Patrick Cline here in his NYC apartment. 

 

Auction Catalogs.  A tremendous resource for art and antique lovers...full of the best pieces, often beautifully photographed, along with educational information on an item's history and provenance.  And the best catalogs today have gorgeous lay outs and styling, the most recent example of which is Christie's Paris catalog of their March 6 auction of Hubert de Givenchy's Giacometti collection. Which brings me to......

 Hubert de Givenchy.  Renaissance Man.  Clothing designer to the most elegant women of the 20th Century.....Audrey Hepburn, Babe Paley, Bunny Mellon among others....and the interiors and gardens of his homes in France are perhaps the most influential in design in the world.  I get a little breathless when I study his work......divine elegance, seriously chic...call it what you will.  The Ultimate. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Design

 

In 2016, after fourteen years in our circa 1924 Baltimore home, we undertook a major two story renovation/extension of our kitchen and master bath. Any time I post a photo of the results on Instagram, I receive an enthusiastic response so it is time for a fuller blog post. 

I knew when we first purchased the home what needed to be done...the original footprint was very small.  Homes built in 1924 had very utilitarian kitchens, as all that work was behind the scenes.  Today, of course, we live very different lives. The good news about our home was that it had not been touched since 1924 except for new cabinets and appliances installed in the 1980s, so we did not have to deal with any of the poorly done renovations one so often sees today.  Working with our wonderful architect Melville-Thomas the addition is seamless and fitting with the original architecture of the home.  Utilizing an architect, while an added expense, is essential to avoid "basic box" additions.  Working with a high quality builder is also key and Smithouse Builders were a dream team.  The design process took several months.  The construction process took six months start to finish, and was on time on and on budget.  How many projects can say that? The key was that I knew what I wanted, knew where to source what I wanted and made decisions with the architect and builder quickly.  Did I make a few mistakes along the way?  Yes.  But overall, they were minor and I have learned from them.  Our family so enjoys the results.  I hope you do as well.  And if you are contemplating a new kitchen design, please contact us.  We would love to assist you in making a warm, welcoming and functional space in your home.

It all begins with an Inspiration Board to share with the architect and builder. I also generated a prioritized wish list.  My top wish was a kitchen fireplace.  My husband's was a LaCanche range.  He cooks while I sit in front of the fire blogging and perusing auctions online! Win Win.

The architectural drawings.  A good architect will collaborate with you.  It should be a true give and take.  And they should provide you with 2 to 3 options to choose from at different budget points.

The construction.  We lived in our home while construction occurred.  Not for the the faint of heart with two kids and a dog but it can be done.  Our builder created a temporary kitchen in our dining room.  A hot plate and a microwave were very useful...we did not eat take out every night!  Sharing a bathroom with two boys however was not fun.  I have blocked those memories, sort of like childbirth.

Sourcing cabinets, counter tops, appliances, tile and fixtures can be overwhelming but if you have a design plan ahead of time it goes much more smoothly. 

The highlight of our sourcing was a visit to the lovely LaCanche Showroom in Manhattan.  It is a small and intimate space and the team there from France is such a delight to work with.

And six months later.....

Once the basics were installed, the real fun for me began...decorating with antique and vintage furniture, lighting and decorative accessories.  Everything in the new space, except for the counter stools found at Williams Sonoma Home, is vintage or antique.

Using the island sink and counter for flower arranging is one of my joys.

Cabinets to display china, table top pieces, and vases was my second design must have, behind the fireplace.

A small butler's pantry in the breakfast room. Cheers!

 

The seating area is anchored by a 1930s painted stick wicker sofa I found on Ebay.

The kitchen fireplace mantel is vintage found at a salvage shop.  It was stripped of five layers of paint and refinished. Using vintage elements when possible is key to avoiding a cookie cutter look in a new build kitchen design.

The breakfast room.  Now my favorite spot in our home.  The round table is vintage McGuire found on 1stDibs.  It was not high enough to comfortably seat dining chairs so I had a base extension made.  Easy fix!  The antique French two tier gilt chandelier was an auction find.  It had to be rewired but, again, an easy fix to an otherwise incredibly beautiful piece.

The mud room with custom cabinetry and a vintage star lantern found at a consignment shop with John Robshaw runner.

French doors at the back entrance.  And Sophie, our long haired Weimeraner.  The wicker planters are from Terrain.  I adore wicker for its casual chic quality.

The view of the two story addition from our our backyard.  The second story is a master bath, which will be the subject of a future blog post,  The highest compliment is that the addition looks original to the 1924 house. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substance and Style: The Influentials Part One

Influential: One of considerable importance or influence. 

I have been thinking quite a bit of the people and things that have influenced me in my design aesthetic. Some new, some I have admired forever. Some I know personally, some I simply admire from afar. They all possess or embody similar qualities.... substantive, visionary, hard working, valuing of family and friends, knowing their craft, striving to be the best at what they do. Herewith, a Part One list of my influentials.  Stay tuned for Part Two:

 

Rachel "Bunny"  Lambert Mellon.  Of course. The best in everything -- gardens, art, antiques, clothing, jewels, and philanthropy -- always with casual elegance.Photo by Horst.

Bruce Budd.  Know your craft. Be authentic. All done quietly. Epitome of sophistication. Photo by Bjorn Wallander for AD.

 

Town and Country Magazine.  My forever bible on all things fashion, design, and culture.

 Sofia Coppola.  Renaissance Woman.  Creative and style genius.

 Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer.  Businesswoman, mother and wife, beyond chic.  Modern Day Icon.

 

Jacques Grange.  Chicest in Design. Period.

 

Gerrie Bremermann.  Bremermann Designs.  When (not if) I open a brick and mortar shop, I want it to be as beautiful as her eponymous New Orleans shop.

 

 

Heidi Wynne, founder of Heidi Wynne Cashmere. I was a loyal fan of her eponymous cashmere line and then I met her personally through Instagram.  My successful small business inspiration who has been so kind and generous with her advice and support.

Sid and Ann Mashburn.  Creative, stylish, generous, retail geniuses.  When they placed a large order with me I knew I could actually do this!  A moment I will never forget.

World of Interiors.  Best in Design.  Not a trend in sight.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Look: Antiques in Today's Interiors

The rooms that I am drawn to are individual, personal and layered.  Often they are a mix of new pieces, such as a custom sofa, with several great statement antique and vintage pieces from multiple periods, whether it be art, an inherited sideboard, a one of a kind lamp, or a fabulous vintage cocktail table. However, for the last decade it seems using antiques fell out of fashion. Much was written about the demise of antiques and "brown furniture."  Yet, the pendulum seems to be swinging back toward this layered aesthetic, as people are craving rooms with character and individuality filled with wallpaper, upholstery, and, yes, antiques.  The Wall Street Journal recently ran a feature on this revival of  "maximalism."  Whatever one calls it and setting trends aside, great antiques and vintage pieces are the secret to beautiful and timeless rooms.   The key is to integrate them with more modern pieces for a fresh look. 

Estate sales, flea markets and auctions offer the best selection of antiques and vintage often at much more affordable prices than new furniture or accessories sold today in showrooms or design centers. Indeed, I founded Gray Antiques to bring such finds to clients.  Here in Baltimore we are fortunate to have a well established auction house, Alex Cooper, which has the best pieces in the area.  Baltimore and its surroundings have a history of well-traveled and wealthy residents so there is always a something beautiful to be found at auction. The above photo of my living room includes several Alex Cooper finds over the years, such as an antique hand painted Italian screen and a midcentury modern campaign chest by Widdicomb.  Along with my beloved Milo Baughman cane chairs, these pieces elevate the entire room for a fresh and individual look.

Below are more photos of antique and vintage pieces that I have found at auction over the years and incorporated into my home.  And at Gray Antiques, we love helping clients find these great pieces for their own homes. 

 

This gorgeous early 20th century landscape by Paul Jardine found at Alex Cooper served as the design inspiration for our newly renovated kitchen. 

The painting now rests on the mantel of our kitchen fireplace.  The mantelpiece itself is vintage found at a salvage shop and the leopard upholstered bench and garden lanterns also are auction finds.

I acquired this stunning early 20th century gilt tiered French chandelier at Alex Cooper for our new breakfast room.  It had to be rewired but even then it was one-third the price one would  pay for a reproduction manufactured today.

I also found a set of six of these vintage chairs.  While I did not like the upholstery, I loved their shape, they were well made, and I knew I could readily have them slipcovered.  I acquired all six chairs for only $150 dollars, which left plenty in my budget to have custom slip covers made. 

The chairs and chandelier today in our breakfast room, my new  favorite space in our home.  The round table is vintage McGuire, found online. The blue and white Chinese  ginger jars were one of my first auction purchases from Alex Cooper many years ago.  The hand colored German fruit drawings are circa 1800s and are another find that I had custom framed.

 

And finally, even if you are not redesigning an entire room, one key piece, like this sculpture found at Alex Cooper, can bring a fresh perspective.  I adore this sculpture and not a day goes by that I do not pass it in my living room and smile.